Sugar Creek man accuses Walworth County Sheriff's Department of intimidation
ELKHORN--Daniel White and his lawyer Anthony Cotton are accusing the Walworth County Sheriff's Office of intimidating jurors and witnesses and infringing on a defendant's right to a fair trial.
Walworth County Sheriff David Graves said the accusations are “wholly without merit.”
Cotton filed a motion for dismissal and a motion for a change in venue to a non-adjacent county.
In a motion filed with the court, Cotton claims members of the sheriff's office engaged in actions “calculated” to intimidate the jury and witnesses during White's first trial in September. The jury was not able to reach a verdict.
White of Sugar Creek is accused of resisting an officer, battery to law enforcement officers, failure to comply and disorderly conduct in a September 2012 incident. He claims he is the victim of police brutality.
White's attorney for the first trial, Donna Kuchler, declined to comment about the affidavit and her experience because she plans to testify at the motion hearings that have yet to be scheduled.
Moving the trial to a different venue would “prevent these kinds of problems going forward,' Kuchler said.
Eight of the 12 jurors said they thought deputies had their names, addresses, phone numbers or license plate numbers, knew which cars they drove or were being tracked by GPS, according to one motion.
Two jurors signed affidavits saying they feared the deputies and that White couldn't have a fair trial in Walworth County.
In Kuchler's affidavit, the deputies are described as giving “grim and intimidating” expressions to Kuchler, “packing” the courtroom and “forcing the jurors and myself to pass in between” deputies who stood in the hallways while jurors moved from one courtroom to another.
The lawyers and defendant also accuse the deputies of using a dog to search the exterior of vehicles belonging to Kuchler, to White and to White's wife without searching other vehicles in the parking lot outside the courthouse.
“I believe it is highly unlikely that the deputy had a valid investigative reason for subjecting my vehicle to this search,” according to Kuchler's affidavit.
Graves said the parking lot search and the trial are unrelated and the deputies in the room were either testifying or were court security deputies.
Walworth County District Attorney Daniel Necci, who was prosecutor during the September trial, is accused of intimidation as well.
One of the motions accuses Necci of calling the attorney for Erika Alvaro, a woman suspected of having an affair with White, requesting her appearance during the trial.
Alvaro is being prosecuted by Necci for an unrelated offense, according to the motion.
Necci wanted Alvaro in the courtroom to intimidate White and his wife and in return would cut a deal with her, according to Kuchler's affidavit.
The Gazette was not able to reach Necci for comment.
White's new trial is scheduled for March 2014.