According to the Indy Star, the Hamilton County Prosecutor’s Office was found to have mishandled a case against a man named Gregory Whitmore, who was accused of child molestation by his former stepchild. The allegations were first presented to authorities in 2018, when the minor was 14 years old.
Despite multiple requests, the prosecution failed to provide over 10 terabytes of digital data from electronic devices associated with both Whitmore and the teenager. This data was believed to contain alibi information supporting Whitmore’s claim of innocence.
The case reached a premature end in June, when a judge discharged Whitmore and ordered the prosecution to pay more than $100,000 of his legal fees.
The judge, William J. Hughes, wrote in a December order that the delays were “so egregious and so extensive” that they infringed on Whitmore’s constitutional right to fair treatment in the judicial system.
He cited multiple false representations made by prosecutors to the court and Whitmore’s legal team, stating that all evidence had been produced.
The judge also noted that the blame for the mishandling of the case primarily lies with the former head of the prosecution office, Lee Buckingham, and not his deputies.
He called it “gross negligence” for Buckingham not to inquire more deeply with Fishers police, and not to have a policy in place to ensure that deputy prosecutors identified and handed over evidence favorable to the defendant.
The judge also warned that these types of critical evidence delays may not be isolated to the Whitmore case. The Indiana Attorney General’s Office has since appealed the court’s decision.
It is important to note that the judge did not find that prosecutors were intentionally trying to conceal evidence. Also, the teen’s mother said in a statement that the missteps that unraveled the case amounted to an “utter failure” on the part of authorities.
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