A "motion to suppress" hearing for Sarah Jones and her mother, Cheryl, was held Friday in a Kenton County courtroom.
The focus of the hearing was to decide whether or not the judge who signed the search warrant that enabled the prosecution to obtain text messages between Jones and the alleged teenage victim had a 'conflict of interest' in the case.
Sarah Jones, the former Ben-Gal cheerleader and high school teacher, is accused of having sex with one of her teenage students. Her mother, Cheryl, is charged with tampering with evidence.
When Judge Ken Easterling took the stand he denied any personal contact with the alleged victim.
"The first time that I've ever spoken or seen [the alleged victim] was three months after I signed the search warrant in this case," Easterling testified.
The teen argued that wasn't true. He testified he had been to Easterling's home, that he was friends with his son, and even that the son gave him the judge's personal cell phone number to contact him about getting a traffic ticket thrown out.
"He said that he'd take care of it for me and get rid of it, get it off my record," the alleged victim told the court. The teen also testified that he talked on the phone and texted the judge directly concerning the traffic ticket.
Easterling denied ever seeing his own texts show up on any cell phone records of the alleged victim.
The judge not only denied contact with the teen, but he also denied that any other personal contacts may have influenced his impartiality when signing off on the text message warrant.
"I'm a judge sitting on the District Court," Easterling said. "People don't just wander up to me and talk to me about criminal cases … specifically this case with Dixie."
"I couldn't see how he would have been the one to sign for my [text] messages," the teen told the prosecution.
When the prosecution asked why, the teen responded, "To my knowledge I thought you had to be neutral to the case to where you couldn't know the defendant or the alleged victim."
Jones was indicted back in March for first degree sexual abuse and unlawful use of electronic devices to solicit illegal activity.
She could face up to 10 years in prison if convicted.
Recently prosecutors revealed in a motion that Jones allegedly sent a text message to the student telling him to "deny everything." Sarah Jones' attorney then filed a motion to keep text message information sealed.
She is maintaining her innocence. Jones' official trial date is set for Oct. 10.
Cheryl Jones was the principal at Twenhofel Middle school. She has also pleaded not guilty.
There was no decision Friday from Judge Patricia Summe.
If she decides Easterling should never have issued the search warrant in the first place, the question becomes whether the prosecution has enough of a case left to try and convict Sarah Jones.
Tuesday, April 20 2010 11:21 PM EDT2010-04-21 03:21:00 GMT
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