By GREG JORDAN
Bluefield Daily Telegraph
A key witness took the stand Tuesday in the trial of a Mercer County man charged with multiple counts of possessing child pornography and other charges.
John Spaulding, 41, of Montcalm, is currently being tried in Mercer County Circuit Court before Judge William Sadler on charges including first-degree sexual assault and 50 counts of possessing child pornography.
Kimberly Cox, 38, of Nemours, who took the stand Tuesday, testified that she sent Spaulding pornographic images of her juvenile daughter. Chief Assistant Prosecuting Attorney George Sitler questioned Cox about how she came to know Spaulding. Cox said she was friends with one of his cousins in high school, but met him again six years ago when he became a friend to “Anna,” a false identity she created on Facebook and other social media.
Cox testified that she became Spaulding’s friend and helped him on his quest to find Anna, the woman she had created. She accompanied him on multiple trips to North Carolina, Charleston, Beckley and other destinations to find Anna, and sometimes pretended to be Anna both by text and on the telephone.
“Was there a point when Mr. Spaulding proposed to Anna Barker?” Sitler asked.
Cox replied that Spaulding proposed to the fictional woman. During her testimony, Cox said she made other fictional identities, male and female, on the Internet and generated text conversations between them and herself. She said that she became intimate with Spaulding in 2006 or 2007, but was never called his girlfriend.
When Sitler asked if Spaulding ever expressed a sexual interest in children, Cox said he stated while shopping for clothes that he had a sexual interest in her daughter and later requested explicit photographs of her. Cox said she shot the photographs on a cell phone and sent them to Spaulding.
In other testimony, Cox said she twice arranged sexual encounters at the Economy Inn, a Bluefield motel, in February 2012 between Spaulding and a 3-year-old girl in her care.
Under cross-examination by Spaulding’s attorney, Harold Wolfe, Cox said she fabricated the fictional Anna on the Internet to keep Spaulding’ attention. Wolfe said during questioning that she had a history of telling lies and falsehoods.
“Throughout your life you have lied, deceived and concocted stories to get what you want,” Wolfe said to Cox.
“Not all my life, sir,” Cox replied.
Wolfe said Cox first told investigators that she met Spaulding with the little girl at the Econo Lodge, not the Economy Inn. Cox replied that the two motels “were pretty close to each other.”
Replying to Wolfe’s questions, Cox said she created more than 60 false people on the Internet and made several false legal documents to show Spaulding that Anna had legal trouble. Cox said she made them “to make Anna seem more real.”
Cox told investigators she was scared of Spaulding, but Wolfe asked if Spaulding had ever given her a gun for protection. Cox said that he had given her a gun, and that she later pawned it.
One juror who has a child was excused Tuesday morning after telling Sadler that she was disturbed by the child pornography images the jury was viewing. Sitler asked the court to keep the juror, but Wolfe II asked that she be removed because she had already started to form an opinion.
Sadler excused the juror, and one of two alternates took her place on the jury.
In Spaulding’s first trial last February, an alternate joined the jury after one juror became sick and could not report for duty. A second alternate was excused before the jury began its deliberations; however, another juror became ill. The jurors determined they could not continue after Sadler offered to let them return to the courthouse the next morning, and state law did not allow an alternate to be recalled after a jury started deliberating. A mistrial was declared.
Spaulding’s second trial continues today.