Prosecutor Claims Evidence Tampering In Juvenile Court Case
(Memphis) We talked to one of the 17 year olds arrested for an attack on the homeless.
In juvenile court Friday, he and three others admitted to kicking, stomping and shooting homeless men with paintball guns on August 17th.
“They kept messing with us so we shot them with the b.b. gun, the paint ball gun,” the teen told us.
“They were messing with us so we thought it was fun. They were messing with us so we took video of it,” he said.
That video is now the center of an investigation.
When police arrested the teens, they took the cellphones with the video into evidence.
That evidence is supposed to be available only to prosecutors on the case, who can provide it to the defense upon request.
Assistant District Attorney Jamey Kaplan said defense investigator Roger Watts went into the Memphis Police Evidence room and removed the phones himself and when they were returned, the phones were locked. No video evidence was accessible.
Kaplan reported the tampering to the D.A.’s office.
Officials are investigating and won’t comment.
James Sanders is the defense attorney for one of the teens and has doubts about any tampering.
“I would be shocked if it did. My understanding it was in the evidence room. I don’t know how that would happen. I have no knowledge of that,” said Sanders.
Twenty-one-year-old Tarenton Smith was arrested along with the teen and maintains they did nothing, but police say the homeless men were attacked.
The cellphone video may be the link to prove it.
“They ain’t have nothing to prove we did it so? I was locked up. What could I have done with the phone,” the 17-year-old said.
The teens got sentences ranging from Department of Children Services custody to 30 days in juvenile. Since they pled guilty, the video wasn’t needed for their cases.
The teens’ 18- and 21-year-old accomplices have cases pending, and the video from the cellphones may be crucial.
Both Memphis Police and the District Attorney’s Office are looking into who had access to the phones.