To save or not to save: Defense attorneys seek dashcam and bodycam video

Published: Nov. 8, 2019 at 11:37 PM CST
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LAKE CHARLES, La. (KPLC) - Crime scene technology has changed a lot over recent years, providing video that never would have existed in years past.

Now such video is a big pretrial issue in the case of Joey Julian, a man accused of second-degree murder.

His attorneys say video that should have been preserved was not and now it's up to a judge what should happen.

When police first started recording dashcam and bodycam video, prosecutors say the main purpose was to protect police from false accusations and that’s why it’s routinely saved 13 months.

Sometimes it can be used for evidence. Defense attorneys say such is the case of Julian, accused of murdering Ernest Miller at Mill and Ryan Streets in Lake Charles, on Nov. 8, 2017.

Calcasieu First Assistant District Attorney Cynthia Killingsworth says it's only saved as evidence if investigators or prosecutors decide it's relevant.

“In the regular course of business, it was purged," Killingsworth said. “Now I know that they think someone did something wrong by doing that, but that’s what happens to video tape. You cannot keep all that tape forever. But I didn’t know they wanted this so I didn’t ask them to pull it. They didn’t know they wanted it and they didn’t ask them to pull it either.”

However, Julian’s defense attorney, Adam Johnson, says there’s no doubt it should have been preserved.

“We believe that they contain things that would have been beneficial for our defense and for our self-defense argument," Johnson said. “They would be massively beneficial to us. Plus, they would give us a ton of good information about the case.”

Johnson says the jury should be told the videos were destroyed.

“You’ve got to give the guy something, or at least tell the jury what happened because that’s the minimal thing you can do for someone you’re trying to put in Angola,” said Johnson

But Killingsworth disagrees.

“Nobody did anything on purpose," she said. “Nobody had any bad faith. Nobody deliberately got rid of evidence that should be here that the jury should see.”

The judge said the destruction of the tapes was troubling but stopped short of issuing a ruling which will come later this month.

At this point, trial is set for Dec. 9.

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