BUCYRUS — Crawford County Common Pleas Court Judge Sean Leuthold this week denied a request made by defense attorney Andy Motter to have the court pay for a forensic psychologist to determine if the alleged victims in a rape case had been coached regarding their testimony.
Motter represents David Vreeland, 51, currently being held at the Crawford County Justice Center, who is facing one count of rape and one count of gross sexual imposition.
Prosecutor Ryan Hoovler objected to the motion, saying that at least one victim in the case had made a previous complaint about Vreeland, so that victim had knowledge of the legal system and that accounting for her testimony.
Leuthold cited two core objectives the court had to address. First, the value of expert assistance to the defendant’s proper representation at trial, and second, the availability of alternative devices that fulfill the same functions as the expert assistance sought.
“The defense has not cited a great deal of value that the expert would add in this case,” Leuthold ruled, “Counsel for the defense has articulated a variety of ways in which the testimony of the child witnesses could be subject to cross examination. It is not clear that the expert would provide any significant additional value at trial.”
The judge went on to say he observed some leading questions in one part of the video, and references to prior conversations. Leuthold determined that the alleged discrepancies do not rise to the level of taint, but simply a function of different amounts of information given for different interviewers. Leuthold commented that the statements in question go to one victim’s familiarity with the process from the prior allegations of sexual abuse that were not charged.
“The ultimate truth or falsity of the statements is a matter for cross examination. The defense will have the opportunity to confront and cross examine,” Leuthold said. “An expert will not be necessary for this issue.”
In addressing the second objective, which is the availability of alternative devices that fulfill the same functions as an expert witness, Leuthold again addressed if a real need was met and determined it was not.
“The greatest asset the defendant has is his counsel,” Leuthold said.
Noting that the defendant was appointed attorney Motter to represent him, Leuthold ruled that Motter has decades of experience with criminal law and has articulated that knowledge and experience in this case.
“He is capable of cross examination and making arguments to a jury. Counsel is one of the greatest protections of due process and will fulfill the same functions as the expert would,” Leuthold said.
Leuthold reminded all parties that the jury is tasked with weighing the truthfulness of testimony. The jury will determine after examination and cross-examination if the victims are telling the truth.
“The jury is capable of weighing testimony and an expert is unnecessary to supplement that function in this matter,” Leuthold said.
He added that counsel has the right to subpoena and question any child welfare employees and the children’s services caseworker with the assistance of an expert, since that is where Motter alleges the coaching took place.
“If there is any other party who has been alleged to have fabricated these allegations, the defense can subpoena and question them at trial as well,” Leuthold said. “No expert is necessary to do this.”
Also this week, a Bucyrus man who is jail has his phone privileges revoked.
Jeremy Lewis, 43, of Bucyrus, and currently in jail on a $1 million bond, can no longer use the phone, Judge Sean Leuthold decided.
Assistant County Prosecutor Ryan Hoovler made the case for the revocation of Lewis’ phone privileges last week, based on phone calls the prosecution monitored made from the jail to Lewis’ father.
The judge, after listening to the phone messages and recorded visitations, revoked Lewis’ phone privileges for these reasons:
- The defendant made multiple attempts to have third parties contact the alleged victim or initiate a conference call where the defendant could directly communicate with the alleged victim.
- The defendant used derogatory language to describe the alleged victim.
- The defendant attempted to have third parties make contact with other potential victims in this case
- The defendant discussed the possibility of assaulting a third party, unrelated to the case.
Lewis was also repeated and emphasized an earlier order that the defendant is forbidden to contact the alleged victim in this case and may not instruct any other person to do so on his behalf.