Motions Heard In Strangling Death

Thursday, July 11, 2019 - by Joseph Dycus

A Chattanooga man accused of murder has an issue with the format of video evidence that supports a case against him.

 

Mark Eric Howard, 55, allegedly strangled Jeanette Scholten in a hotel room in 2016. Some of the evidence includes text messages and video from security cameras.

 

Howard’s attorney, Zachary Newman, filed several motions with Judge Don Poole.

One of those was requesting to see the police notes from the investigation, something the prosecution does not believe he is entitled to see.

 

Another issue Mr. Newman had was the way the video evidence was handled. According to the attorney, the video was split up into hundreds of sections, and appeared disjointed and out-of-order.

 

One of the witnesses was Mark Hamilton, an electronic evidence technician for the Chattanooga Police Department. According to Mr. Hamilton, he took video from the hotel, put it on a hard drive, and then transferred the video to an archival blue-ray DVD.

 

When asked about why the video had gaps in it, he explained the cameras were “on motion,” which meant it would only record when certain visual criteria were met.

 

“There’s no way to know if it’s complete,” said the technician, “It’s on motion. It records when it feels like it.”

 

Mr. Hamilton said the state has the complete video file, even though it has been broken up for the convenience of those investigating the case.

 

He also told the court that he pulled the texts from Scholten’s cell phone too. He placed it in an isolated place, and just pulled all of the data off of the machine. He stressed he did not alter the state of the phone in any way.

 

Lucas Fuller was the other witness. As an investigator with the police department, he was one of the officers who was tasked with viewing the video. According to Mr. Fuller, he was one of six investigators charged with watching over the video footage.

 

Mr. Fuller said he watched only a portion of the full video, since it was unreasonable to expect one person to watch the entire 48 hour video. The rest of his testimony matched up with what Mark Hamilton said.

 

After listening to what was said, judge Don Poole did not make a ruling on these motions. He set an Aug. 27 date for any more hearings on motions the defendant would like to see through. The trial date is Oct. 1.

 

 


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