Former school principal in child pornography case asks US court to suppress evidence, dismiss indictment
- Published on Tuesday, October 09, 2012 00:00
- Written by By Andrew O. De Guzman - Reporter
- Hits: 578
FORMER Whispering Palms School principal Thomas Weindl, 67, has asked the federal court to dismiss the indictment with prejudice in the event his motion to suppress is ultimately granted, according to his attorney David Banes.Weindl’s lawyer said the motion seeks to suppress all evidence obtained by the federal government’s “warrantless search of an office laptop in violation of the Fourth Amendment.”
The search, Banes said, utilized internet surveillance software E-blaster that was “surreptitiously installed” on Weindl’s computer by the Federal Bureau of Investigation “without a warrant.”
“The absence of a search warrant renders the government’s actions in this case per se unreasonable. Therefore, all evidence obtained from this warrantless search must be excluded at trial including all ‘fruit of the poisonous tree’ evidence derived thereto,” Banes said.
He said “the [federal] government’s use of computer surveillance software without a warrant violates the Fourth Amendment.”
Banes added that “the government’s failure to give Miranda warning prior to questioning [Weindl] warrants suppression.”
According to the federal government, Weindl, a Finasisu resident, received and accessed “still image and video files depicting minor children engaging in sexually explicit conduct” using a federally funded school laptop that was earlier issued to a Whispering Palms student, a son of an FBI special agent who had installed the E-blaster software to monitor the boy’s online activity.
Before relocating to the states, the father returned the school-issued laptop to Weindl.
Last month, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit upheld the pretrial detention order imposed by U.S. District Court for the NMI Chief Judge Ramona V. Manglona on Weindl who has been indicted on child pornography charges.
Manglona ruled that Weindl did not rebut the presumption under 18 United States Code section 3142 (e) that no condition or combination of conditions will reasonably assure appellant’s appearance and the safety of the community. She then ordered Weindl’s detention pending trial.
Manglona said Weindl’s jury trial starts on Nov. 27, 2012. It was supposed to begin on Oct. 1, 2012 but both parties asked the court to reschedule it so they could have more time to prepare.
Weindl entered a not guilty plea to the charges of receipt of child pornography, and two counts of access with intent to view child pornography that the prosecution said separately occurred on June 15 and 18, 2012.
Weindl remains under the custody of the U.S. Marshals Service, and has been detained at the CNMI Department of Corrections facility since the FBI arrested him on June 28, 2012.
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