Walker County Court judge to hear motions in child sex sting case

Walker County Court judge to hear motions in child sex sting case

August 10th, 2013 by Tyler Jett in Local Regional News

A judge is set to hear motions that will determine what can -- and can't -- be used as evidence in 10 criminal cases that resulted from an undercover child-sex sting.

Defense attorneys David Dunn, McCracken Poston and Shawn Bible will argue in Walker County Court on Monday morning that they should get access to certain pieces of evidence prior to the criminal trials.

The attorneys want to look at computers used by the members of the FBI's Northwest Georgia Crimes Against Children Task Force. Members of this task force went on websites like Craigslist, posed as parents and tried to solicit strangers into meeting for sex with these parents' fictional children.

In addition to looking at the computers used in these cases, the attorneys also want to look at the task force members' personnel files.

Dunn, Poston and Bible filed motions to get access to this evidence on March 5 after reports revealed that the FBI is investigating the task force's leader, Special Agent Ken Hillman. Another task force member said that Hillman allowed a romantic interest, Angela Russell, to help the investigators and even slap handcuffs on some defendants -- even though Russell is not a trained officer.

According to a June 24 letter from FBI Special Agent Mark Giuliano to Lookout Mountain Judicial Circuit District Attorney Herbert "Buzz" Franklin, the bureau is investigating Hillman for nine different allegations.

The FBI is looking into whether the agent intervened in a traffic incident that involved someone he knew, misused his position during a traffic stop and lied during an investigation about a car accident.

And then there are allegations that Hillman provided special privileges to an unauthorized person -- most likely Russell.

In addition to letting her help investigators in the sting and use handcuffs, according to the letter, Hillman may have driven Russell in one of the bureau's vehicles. He also may have brought her to an undercover location, and showed her how the FBI investigated some of its targets, and gave her a handgun.

The defense attorneys have also filed a motion to dismiss the Lookout Mountain Judicial Circuit district attorney's office from prosecuting the cases. The attorneys have argued that Franklin's office has a conflict of interest in trying these cases.

Tom Evans, a former Ringgold police sergeant, used to be a member of the task force. He is also married to Beth Evans, one of Franklin's assistant district attorneys.

Contact Tyler Jett at tjett@timesfreepress.com or 757-6476.