Sex crime cases end in dismissal, mistrial
A sex crimes case against White City Metals owner Donald James McLaughlin has been dismissed, and a separate sex crimes case ended in a mistrial. However, Senior Deputy District Attorney Terry Smith-Norton said Tuesday she will try the case again that ended Monday afternoon in a mistrial.
"We will proceed to trial again," she said.
McLaughlin's trial involving four alleged victims in two separate cases started last week.
On Friday, a case was dismissed that involved one female younger than 18 and allegations of first-degree rape, first-degree sexual abuse and four counts of third-degree sexual abuse in 2016.
The female in that case testified she had information on her phone that would bolster her testimony, Peter Carini, defense attorney for McLaughlin, said Tuesday.
Carini said it sounded like the phone had information that qualified as new evidence, so he asked her to give her phone to a detective to examine that night.
"The next day, Terry told me because of stuff on the phone, she felt she had an ethical obligation to dismiss the case based on what was discovered," Carini said.
Carini said Smith-Norton provided him with a thumb drive that contained the new information off the phone.
Both Carini and Smith-Norton declined to say what was discovered on the phone because a separate case is still pending against McLaughlin.
"Over the course of the trial, new evidence came to light on the victim's phone that made it untenable for us to go forward with the charges involving that particular victim," Smith-Norton said.
The trial continued on for the second case in which McLaughlin is accused of forcible first-degree sodomy and forcible first-degree sexual abuse in 2012 against a female whose age is not listed in court documents, according to an indictment.
In that second case, McLaughlin is accused of first-degree sexual abuse between Sept. 1, 2006 and Sept. 30, 2007 involving a girl who was younger than 14, plus two counts of first-degree unlawful sexual penetration, two counts of first-degree sexual abuse and two counts of second-degree sexual abuse between Sept. 1, 2004 and Sept. 5, 2006, involving a girl who was younger than 18, according to an indictment.
On Monday morning, Carini filed a motion for a mistrial, arguing the jury had been tainted by hearing only one-sided testimony from the first case that had been dismissed.
"The jury heard the whole catalog of terribles about Mr. McLaughlin, including but not limited to numerous inappropriate sexual contacts and culminating in an alleged forcible rape," Carini said in the motion that is part of court records. "With the dismissal, the defense was deprived of his opportunity to refute and disprove the truth of the allegations, the testimony, and all of the disparaging inferences resulting therefrom. The jury has heard nothing but information prejudicial to the defendant that cannot be addressed by the defense."
Carini argued in the motion that the jury would be influenced by that information when deciding McLaughlin's guilt or innocence in the remaining case.
Jackson County Circuit Court Judge Timothy Barnack initially denied Carini's motion, and the trial went on for part of that day.
But when Carini again asked for a mistrial Monday afternoon, Barnack granted the motion, court records show.