Monday, November 16, 2009

Examiners testify remotely via video

From NWANews.com

A closedcircuit television system linked to the state crime lab is seeing a lot more use in Washington County Circuit Court these days.

In the latest example, prosecutors have asked to allow examiners to testify via closed circuit television at the rape trial of 40-year-old Avery Laray Scott.

Scott is accused of engaging in sexual activity with a female who was too drunk to consent or was unaware sex acts were occurring. The incident happened on the University of Arkansas campus.

The trial is set for Dec. 11 before Washington County Circuit Judge William Storey.

Three examiners are expected to testify, including Sammy Williams, a toxicologist, Heather Farrell, who examines physical evidence, and Mary Simonson, a DNA evidence examiner.

The link allows examiners at the crime lab to testify without leaving their office.

“I’m very pleased with it and I’ve encouraged the prosecutors and defense attorneys to agree to do it,” Storey said. “It allows technicians to spend their time working in the lab rather than driving up and down I-40. It certainly does not adversely effect the testimony of the crime lab technicians and it saves the state a lot of time and money.”

The system was implemented because of the huge amount of travel time involved for evidence examiners testifying around the state. Crime lab officials say employees spend as much as half their time traveling.

It also allows examiners to work on other cases in the lab right up until they are summoned to testify.

“We like to use it whenever we can,” Washington County Prosecuting Attorney John Threet said. “You’re talking about a six-hour minimum drive (from the crime lab in Little Rock to Fayetteville and back). It saves them a lot of time.”

Typically, an examiner will only be on the stand for a short time.

“It lasts 10 to 15 minutes on TV and they go back down the hall to work,” Threet said.

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