Hearing today in Lafuria case - KPLC 7 News, Lake Charles, Louisiana

Evidence focus of hearing in LaFuria case

LAKE CHARLES, LA (KPLC) -

A mock trial is planned for Oct. 22 in the case of Dr. Peter LaFuria -- the OB/GYN doctor accused of taking explicit pictures of patients without their permission and other charges.

The mock trial is to test how hard it will be to pick a jury for LaFuria in Calcasieu Parish, where the case has received media coverage since his arrest in 2007.

The defense is hoping to get a change of venue which will be taken up in a hearing the next day, on Oct. 23.

A hearing Wednesday on a motion to suppress certain evidence didn't finish and will pick up again on Nov. 9. In the hearing, some of the closely guarded details of the investigation began to unfold.

In the five years since LaFuria was arrested, the details of how the case started have been kept secret for the most part. LaFuria is the doctor from Lake Charles arrested in 2007 for allegedly taking pictures of his patients in the exam room without their knowledge or consent. He is charged with 186 counts of video voyeurism, 78 counts of sexual battery and five counts of molestation of a juvenile.

According to Detective Patty Bailey, it all started when a patient saw LaFuria take a picture of her while she was undressed.

Bailey testified the woman's husband made an appointment to see LaFuria the next day to question him about the photo.

Bailey testified that the husband said LaFuria admitted to having taken a photo to document scarring or tissue but claimed the camera battery was low and that the photo did not come out.

The husband allegedly asked to see paperwork authorizing him to take pictures. LaFuria allegedly told the husband that he did not need permission to take photos.

The investigation that resulted eventually led to the discovery of thousands of photos, photos allegedly taken of LaFuria's patients in the exam room.

The hearing had to do with whether those photos were properly seized or whether detectives went beyond the scope of the search warrant they had.

Bailey testified how authorities' search of LaFuria's truck at his home led to the discovery of cameras and disks in a bag. She testified how they advised LaFuria of his rights as they began the search of the truck and that, when they discovered the bag, LaFuria said, "That's it. That's the camera. I'm so stupid."

Bailey said  twice, LaFuria tried to grab the bag and that she told  him to step away or she would cuff him. She said the doctor said, "It was the worst day of his life … that he was going to kill himself." She said he also said, "It was just porn."

Bailey said they became concerned because they thought LaFuria was suicidal.

She later described images found on the CDs they seized which included numerous images of women nude in the exam room, including close-up photos of their breasts and private parts.

However, the defense argues search warrants issued for LaFuria's medical office were improperly extended to his truck and home, an issue for the court to decide.

Today's motion to suppress will continue on Nov. 9. Now there is no trial date.

KPLC's Theresa Schmidt will have more on later editions.

Copyright 2012 KPLC. All rights reserved.

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