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Sex crime trial enters 2nd week; focuses on investigator

POSTED: April 17, 2013 12:24 a.m.

After testifying Monday, Gwinnett County Police Department Detective Jerrald Leak found himself on the witness stand all day Tuesday in a child molestation case in Hall County Court.

Leak, the lead investigator for Gwinnett, testified about his interview with the two alleged victims, who were brothers aged 10 and 12 at the time of the investigation.

On trial is 31-year-old Gainesville resident Christopher Thomas Ray. He is charged with more than 20 counts of child sex crimes, in addition to charges of controlled substance violations. Ray pleaded not guilty to all charges.

Throughout the trial, the prosecution, with Wanda Vance and Kelly Robertson representing the state, has focused heavily on the August 2010 kidnapping incident, for which Ray was initially charged in Gwinnett.

Video testimony of Ray lying to investigators about his knowledge of the younger alleged victim’s whereabouts was played to jurors.

He became emotional toward the end of the interview and said, “I’ve lived here the past four years, and I’ve had more contact with them than she has,” he said. “She’s trying to protect herself and the kids.”

Ray’s attorney, Brett Willis from the public defender’s office, focused again on interview technique. He asked Leak during cross-examination if he was aware of an investigator’s decision to intentionally mislead the younger victim on Ray’s statement to police.

Gwinnett Police Detective Dan Appleby testified Friday he had deliberately misled the then 10-year-old child into thinking Ray had already admitted to touching him to make the child feel more comfortable.

“Unless it’s already been said by the children we’re interviewing, ... we can’t repeat it,” Leak said. “You don’t want to introduce it, but if the child has already said it on his own, you can bring it up.”

The idea, Willis said, was to not reveal to kids the “right” answer.

Also in greater focus throughout Tuesday’s testimony was Ray’s prescription drug abuse, which his attorneys have not denied. His defense does, however, dispute that he drugged the alleged victims.

The prosecution has said that pictures of the younger alleged victim on Ray’s cellphone where he appears to be asleep substantiate that claim, a claim also referenced in texts between Ray and an apparent drug dealer.

Testimony in the case continues today.


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