Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

January 14, 2014

Judge: Evidence admissible in Spaulding case

By GREG JORDAN
Bluefield Daily Telegraph

PRINCETON — A Mercer County circuit court judge ruled Monday that evidence seized and text messages allegedly exchanged with a local woman who was sentenced Monday on sexual assault and sexual abuse charges were admissible in court.

John Spaulding, 40, of Montcalm, appeared Monday before Circuit Judge William Sadler for a motions hearing. Spaulding faces charges including five counts of sexual assault first degree, one count of attempt to commit a felony, one count of sexual abuse first degree, and 50 counts of possession of material depicting minors engaged in sexually explicit conduct.

Sadler ruled there was probable cause that allowed a search warrant of Spaulding’s home. During the search, investigators with the West Virginia State Police found a laptop computer under Spaulding’s pillow that allegedly contained images of children engaged in sexual acts.

In a second ruling, Sadler ruled that the testimony of Kimberly Cox, 38, of Nemours, could authenticate whether Spaulding sent text messages to her. Cox was sentenced Monday to terms of 15 to 35 years for sexual assault first degree and 10 to 20 years for sexual abuse by a parent, guardian or custodian. Investigators allege that she exchanged images and messages with Spaulding. Testifying at Spaulding’s trial was a condition of her plea agreement.

Spaulding’s trial had been scheduled for Jan. 22. Defense counsel Harold B. Wolfe III and Chief Assistant Prosecuting Attorney George Sitler both asked for a new date so they could examine evidence and statements in the case. The trial was rescheduled for Feb. 4.

The defense has had an expert examine Spaulding’s computer, and wishes to do the same with Cox’s computer, Sitler said.

The case involving Cox and Spaulding began in the summer of 2012 when a computer Cox once owned was sold at a pawnshop. The owners called the state police when they found sexually explicit images of Cox and a 3- to 4-year-old girl on it.

Sitler said before Monday’s hearing that he had been told by Sgt. M.K. Summers of the West Virginia State Police that there was no evidence that Spaulding’s brother, the late Jackie Spaulding Jr. had ever owned the computer found in John Spaulding’s home.

Jackie Spaulding Jr. died Jan. 29, 2012, after being fatally shot at Woodlawn Cemetery in Bluewell by a West Virginia State Police trooper. The shooting was later ruled justifiable.

John Spaulding is free on bond.

— Contact Greg Jordan at gjordan@bdtonline.com