Jury selection begins today in the trial of a man accused in the 2012 sexual assault of a 14-month-old child.
Attorneys for Jason Michael Grant, 36, tried unsuccessfully in a pretrial hearing Friday to keep out of evidence a video recording made on Grant’s cellphone. Defense attorneys argued that the recording, which prosecutors have said captures 10 seconds of the attack, should be kept out of evidence because the phone had been stolen. Attorney William Leathers argued that Grant was entitled to a degree of privacy that was violated when law enforcement was shown the recording.
However, Assistant District Attorney Adam Poole argued that Grant effectively waived his privacy rights when he gave the phone to Alisha Marie Drake.
Drake, who turned 37 on Sunday, faces a charge of sexual performance by a child, accused of recording a child being sexually abused.
A jury in August 2013 convicted Drake, but the state’s 14th Court of Appeals reversed the conviction and remanded it back to the 212th State District Court, for retrial. The appeals court found that then-Judge Susan Criss’ handling of jury selection damaged Drake’s chances of having her case fairly and impartially heard by a jury.
Criss held a juror in contempt after he told the court he would not be able to view images of child-sex abuse, because doing so would violate his faith as a member of the Jehovah’s Witness denomination. The appellate court held that action effectively discouraged other potential jurors from honestly sharing any biases they might have had.
Drake’s retrial is scheduled for April.
Grant’s trial had been on hold since February 2015, when he was found incompetent to stand trial and temporarily committed to a mental hospital.
However, he was found competent after an evaluation in October.
Grant faces a charge of aggravated sexual assault of a child. Typically, that charge carries a possible prison term of five to 99 years, as well as a fine of up to $10,000. However, because the listed victim is younger than six years old, the minimum prison term would be 25 years, in the event of a conviction.
He also faces a charge of possession of child pornography, which carries a possible prison term of two to 20 years, as well as a fine of up to $10,000.