Judge won't allow testimony from destroyed recording in dogfighting case
Judge Melinda Morris ruled to not allow witness testimony describing the contents of a destroyed recording in the case of an Ypsilanti Township man accused of selling ‘dogfighting’ puppies.
The judge did not, however, grant the defense’s motion to dismiss the case at a hearing in the Washtenaw County Trial Court Monday. The case will return to court next week to give the prosecution time to determine the impact of the ruling.
The recording in question, an alleged conversation between undercover officers and Gayland Tomlin, 28, was accidentally thrown away back in February, but prosecutors didn’t learn of it until July.
Tomlin is accused of trying to sell a ‘dogfighting’ pit bull puppy to undercover officers with the Humane Society of Huron Valley and the Washtenaw County Sheriff’s Office last winter. The destroyed recording was of that transaction, prosecutors said. When the Humane Society officer wanted to boost the sound quality, the recording was given to someone at her agency as opposed to the sheriff’s office.
An information technology specialist at the Humane Society couldn’t find the sound file on the disc and threw it out.
“There was nothing accidental,” said Tomlin’s public defender, Steven Adams. “An employee in the agency in charge of this case intentionally destroyed (this recording).”
Assistant Washtenaw County Prosecutor Paul Barnett argued the recording wasn’t destroyed because of its contents or how it might effect a trial. The person who threw it out inadvertently did so.
“It was an accident,” he said. “It’s regrettable, but accidental.”
Due to the ruling, the officers who were wired with recording equipment to tape the conversation with Tomlin will not be able to testify about what was on the recording if the case goes to trial.
The next hearing is set for Aug. 27.