Monday, June 26, 2017

Tennessee Tampering Conviction A Family Affair

A Tennessee attorney convicted of tampering with evidence has been disbarred by consent.

The crime was covered by the Jackson Sun

A jury found Edythe Christie guilty of tampering with evidence Thursday for deleting photos and videos from her son’s cell phone following her daughter-in-law’s death.

Christie will be held in the Madison County Jail without bond until her sentencing on Oct.1. Her family reacted to the verdict with shock and tears.

“She is not guilty,” her father, Lonnie Paschall, said.

Edythe Christie testified in her defense Thursday morning after her son, John Christie, testified as a prosecution witness on Wednesday.

In court, Edythe Christie’s attorney Hal Dorsey said Christie did not deny deleting photos and videos from her son’s phone. She checked the phone out from his personal items in the Madison County Criminal Justice Complex in December 2013 while he was in jail on a probation violation. The defense contended that the phone wasn’t considered evidence.

John Christie’s estranged wife Brittany Christie was found dead in an Old Hickory Inn hotel room on Dec. 6, 2013. Police said she died of an overdose of heroin and clonazepam. Authorities charged John Christie with her murder several months later, in April 2014.

“When I saw the photographs of Brittany on the phone, I just had a gut reaction,” Edythe Christie testified Thursday. “I believed the photographs could be recovered.”

Christie said she deleted the photos of her daughter-in-law to protect her son from seeing them after he was released from jail.

“It was to protect John and his children,” Edythe Christie said in court. “I had no intention of making it unavailable to police.”

Voice recordings of the mother and son discussing the cell phone on Dec. 19 and Dec. 20, 2013, when John Christie was in custody, were played in court on Wednesday.

In the recorded calls, John Christie asked his mother to pick up the phone from his personal items. Edythe Christie told him she would pick the phone up the next morning, on Dec. 20.

“I had no intention of destroying or deleting anything,” she testified. “I thought if I deleted texts and phone calls, then that’s a crime.”

Edythe Christie said she kept the phone with her in her Medina home until she gave it to her son’s attorney in May. A week after she turned it over to the attorney, police searched her home, as well as John Christie’s attorney’s office, to find the Samsung phone.

“I didn’t believe it to be relevant evidence,” she said in court. “I just wanted to shut him up.”

Christie said she never intended to hide the phone from investigators.

“If they would’ve asked me, I would’ve told them where it was and what was deleted,” she said. “I thought, ‘If the police want the phone, then they can come find the phone.’”

Members of Brittany Christie’s family were in court during both John and Edythe Christie’s testimony. To stepsister Kristin Mayo, the verdict is another step toward closure for the family.

“I’m happy with the verdict, happy with the outcome,” Mayo said. “I’m hoping to get the same verdict and get peace and closure in Brittany’s death.”

John Christie is scheduled for trial next month on charges of second-degree murder and tampering with evidence. Mayo said seeing Christie testify in his mother’s trial was difficult for Brittany’s family.

“It’s hard to see him period,” Mayo said. “They’re good people and I know they’re going through a lot.”

John Christie had asked his mother to destroy the SD card in his phone, according to testimony. Jackson police investigators testified she did not destroy the card, but did delete five photos and a video showing John and Brittany Christie together before Brittany Christie’s death. The photos and video were recovered and were shown in court on Wednesday.

Edythe Christie was an attorney of 19 years, most recently practicing in Gibson County.

After the jury read the guilty verdict, Christie’s attorney said he did not believe she would practice anymore.

“I’m sure that will cease starting today,” Dorsey said.

After the verdict was read, Judge Don Allen said Edythe Christie knew the deleted photos were evidence investigators would have needed to show John and Brittany Christie were together before Brittany was found dead.

“The 24 hours leading up to her death is critical to an investigator,” Allen said. “It was a critical piece of evidence she deleted.”

Edythe Christie is scheduled for sentencing on Oct. 1 at 8:30 a.m.

John Christie is scheduled for trial Sept. 29.

(Mike Frisch)

http://lawprofessors.typepad.com/legal_profession/2017/06/a-tennessee-attorney-convicted-of-tampering-with-evidence-has-been-disbarred-the-crime-was-covered-by-the-jackson-sun-a-ju.html

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