By GREG JORDAN
Bluefield Daily Telegraph
Wearing an orange jail uniform, a Mercer County woman who pleaded guilty to sexual assault and sexual abuse by a parent or custodian testified in circuit court Wednesday that a man she knew asked her to make child pornography photos and arrange sexual encounters with a 3-year-old girl.
Kimberly Cox, 38, of Nemours was the first witness to testify that morning in the trial of John Spaulding, 41, of the Montcalm area. Spaulding, arrested in October 2013, faces charges including multiple counts including sexual assault first degree, attempt to commit a felony, sexual abuse first degree, and 50 counts of possession of material depicting minors engaged in sexually explicit conduct. The trial began Tuesday.
Jailed defendants and witnesses are usually allowed to wear civilian clothes while testifying, but no street clothes had been sent with Cox when she was brought to the Mercer County Courthouse from the Southern Regional Jail. Chief Assistant Prosecuting Attorney George Sitler, defense attorney Harold Wolfe, and Spaulding did not object to Cox testifying in the jail uniform. Circuit Court Judge William Sadler told Spaulding he could not use this as a reason to appeal later to a higher court.
Cox testified she is now serving a term of 25 to 55 years in prison, and would not be subject to release in less than 25 years.
When asked how she knew Spaulding, Cox replied that she knew him in junior high school, and encountered him again when she set up a fake identity dubbed “Anna Barker,” and used a brunette woman’s photograph to represent her. Cox said Spaulding started corresponding with her, and Spaulding later become interested in meeting “Anna” and being intimate with her, even traveling to a Morgantown hospital to meet her. Cox later said that she and Spaulding became intimate, but she never regarded him as a boyfriend.
Part of Cox’s testimony involved Spaulding’s brother, the late Jackie Spaulding, who died during a police shoot-out in January 2012. There had been questions about whether a laptop computer containing child pornography, found at John Spaulding’s home when a search warrant was executed, had once belonged to Jackie Spaulding.
Cox said she was never involved with Jackie Spaulding or knew him personally. The case against her began in 2013 when her boyfriend at that time pawned her laptop computer at a Bluefield pawnshop. When Sitler asked her if she knew it contained child pornography, she replied yes, and added she thought nobody would see the images, and planned to retrieve the laptop later.
Sitler showed Cox a long series of child pornography pictures on a large television positioned so only court personnel and the jury could watch it. The photos showed Cox sexually assaulting and abusing a juvenile girl. Sitler repeatedly asked her if she had made each photo on her cell phone and sent it to Spaulding. Spaulding was not in any of the photos.
“Yes, sir,” she replied every time, sometimes wiping her eyes.
“Did you transmit the picture to John Spaulding?” Sitler asked.
“Yes, sir,” Cox said.
“Did you do this at John Spaulding’s request?” Sitler inquired.
“Yes, sir,” Cox repeated.
“Did you take more pictures than what we’re seeing here?” he asked.
“Yes, sir,” Cox stated.
Some jurors watched the television while others kept their eyes on Cox.
The defense argued previously that Cox fabricated a story about Spaulding after she was arrested and charged. Cox testified she was telling the truth Wednesday.
“Did you plan in January 2011 to make this all up and pin it on John Spaulding?” Sitler asked.
“No, sir,” Cox replied.
Attorney Harold Wolfe questioned Cox’s statements about Spaulding. During his cross-examination, he had her confirm how she had created multiple fake identifies on the Internet and lied during the investigation of her activities.
“You told lies all over the place, did you?” Wolfe asked.
“Yes,” Cox stated.
“Fact is, Ms. Cox, you will say or do anything to your benefit,” Wolfe said.
“No, sir,” Cox replied.
Wolfe asked Cox about contradictory statements to investigators about alleged meetings she arranged with Spaulding at a Bluefield motel so he could have sexual encounters with a 3-year-old girl in her care. She first said the two encounters occurred in April 2013, then said they happened in February that same year. The name of the motel also changed in her statements, he said.
“I couldn’t remember the exact dates when I was in jail,” Cox said.
Wolfe asked Cox why she said nothing about Spaulding to investigators with the West Virginia State Police until she was facing multiple charges for the photos found on her computer.
“Isn’t it that time when you came up with the story of John Spaulding after your lawyer said what the pictures were and there was no escape?” Wolfe said.
“No,” Cox said.
Wolfe also told Cox if she could create fake identities on the Internet, she could also create fake text messages allegedly exchanged with Spaulding. Cox denied faking the texts. Wolfe asked Cox if she had also sent the photographs to Spaulding’s computer, and then checked to make sure they were in it. Of the 50 pictures sent to Spaulding, more than 30 were never opened, Wolfe said.
“I have a theory you put these in his computer,” Wolfe stated.
“No, sir,” Cox replied.
“And you checked to make sure they were there,” he added.
“No, sir,” Cox asserted.
The trial continues today.�