Judge rules on admissable evidence | CraigDailyPress.com

Judge rules on admissable evidence

O'Hara makes decisions about golf coach sex-assault case

Christina M. Currie

Thomas J. Dockstader, once the Moffat County High School golf coach, won’t say whether he had sexual relations with a former golfer after she turned 18 — and he won’t have to.

Fourteenth Judicial District Judge Michael O’Hara ruled Wednesday that most evidence that indicated Dockstader had a relationship with the alleged victim after she was 18 would not be admissible during the September trial.

Deputy District Attorney Amy Fitch argued during a motions hearing that, even though a relationship after the girl turned 18 was not illegal, it was indicative of prior activities.

O’Hara didn’t agree.

But he did support her argu-ments on several other motions. Dockstader appeared bolstered by three attorneys from a Steamboat Springs law firm. Between them, they argued seven motions.

Dockstader was arrested in February on charges of sexual assault on a child by one in a position of trust and contributing to the delinquency of a minor. After the alleged victim was interviewed by police, she offered to place a recorded call to Dockstader.

Attorney Adam Mayo argued that the tape of that conversation should be inadmissible for several reasons. He attempted to prove that Moffat County Sheriff’s Office Investigator K.C. Hume lacked the ability to operate the recording device, that the speakers on the tape were not identified, and that the tape — because it is being enhanced at a crime lab — is being altered.

O’Hara denied the motion, but because he hadn’t heard the tape and because the quality is in question, he told Mayo to resubmit it should the tape come back inaudible. He also said that Hume identified the caller — because he was with her when she made the call, something Hume testified she did willingly. He also said that he recognized Dockstader’s voice.

Mayo also argued a motion to suppress text messages and Internet instant messages the alleged victim and Dockstader apparently exchanged, saying anyone — the victim included — could send them while pretending to be Dockstader. He also argued that because the alleged victim programmed her cellular phone, she put in Dockstader’s name and phone number. Therefore, there was no proof that Dockstader made calls or sent text messages.

One issue is a picture of an erect penis the alleged victim said Dockstader sent her. Mayo argued that was one of several messages and pictures that should not be included because the origin was unknown and because the date was unknown. The picture, he said, was of a body part.

“There’s no way to tell who is in the picture,” he said.

O’Hara said that text messages were admissible.

“In my opinion as a judge, there’s no difference between a telephone conversation and e-mail or text messaging,” he said.

Fitch said the alleged victim will testify that she and Dockstader text-messaged each other four or five times a day.

The defense also asked that the prosecution be more specific in terms of the dates it says events occurred. Some events are tagged with a month and the year.

“It makes it impossible to create an alibi,” Mayo said.

That motion, also, was denied.

O’Hara also upheld that, as a coach, Dockstader was in a position of trust.

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