Mishandled phone records cause Blount County Circuit Court Judge David Duggan to end Jimmy Rauhuff murder trial
By J.J. Kindred | (email@example.com)
Due to the mishandling of some cell phone records, Blount County Circuit Court Judge David Duggan declared a mistrial Friday in the murder trial of a Friendsville man.
Jimmy Lynn Rauhuff, 42, Cave Road, Friendsville, was accused of beating 65-year-old James Arthur Moser to death inside his home, also on Cave Road, on Oct. 16, 2010.
He was charged with first-degree premeditated murder, first-degree murder while perpetrating an aggravated burglary, first-degree murder during the perpetration of a theft, aggravated burglary and theft greater than $500.
Rauhuff’s alleged accomplice, Crystal Victoria Summey, 36, Stephens Road, Greenback, is also being held in the Blount County Detention Facility. Her trial is scheduled for next month. Both are being held on $750,000 bonds.
Duggan announced before the trial resumed that Rob White, Rauhuff’s attorney, had asked prior to the trial that Rauhuff’s cell phone records be produced by the state. A hearing was held last week that addressed the motion of discovery for the telephone records.
Blount County Assistant District Attorney Clinton Frazier said the records had been subpoenaed, but were never received.
Because the records were never received, Duggan denied the motion because there were no documents to turn over, so White brought Duggan a motion and an order during the trial to receive the records, which Duggan signed.
Duggan explained that the cellular phone company responded to White by providing a copy of a subpoena Duggan signed in November 2010, indicating that those records had in fact been produced. The state had the records, but they were never presented. It was also discovered that the records were Moser’s, and not of Rauhuff’s, in an apparent mistake made by the prosecution.
Urges quick retrial
Even though apologies were made, Duggan said he had no choice but to declare a mistrial and set up a status hearing for next month to declare a new trial date, once the phone records matter has been resolved.
“I am not going to dismiss this case with prejudice,” Duggan said, as White had previously made a motion to do so. “I will give both sides the opportunity to research this matter and find a new trial date. There is no reason to be waiting this long to reschedule this matter for trial. We know what you all know, and I know what I’ve heard so far. As long as the witnesses are ready to go, there should be no reason for delay.
“I’m willing to put this case ahead of others,” Duggan continued. “You will have time to look at the records to study them and determine whether you need an expert. We’re not going to sit on this case for three or four months.”
White told The Daily Times that “we had made repeated specific requests for my client’s cell phone records prior to the trial. It had been represented to us that the state was not in possession of those records.
“We learned yesterday that in fact those records were in the state’s possession, and it appeared they had been since November of 2010. Obviously that was something we needed well in advance to prepare, so my client could have a fair trial. They were very vital, and we should have had them a long time ago.”
Frazier confirmed that the records were not turned over before the trial but were turned over Thursday, and declined to comment any further.
The trial lasted for about three days, with witness testimony from neighbors, acquaintances and investigating officers.
During opening statements Tuesday, Frazier gave a timeline of the events of Oct. 16, 2010, starting when Moser was at home and heard a knock on the door. He said Rauhuff allegedly attacked Moser and beat him repeatedly with an object and left him for dead, then stole his wallet and bought crack cocaine with the money in it.
White said the evidence did not point to Rauhuff, but that Summey had a pocket full of money when Rauhuff came to pick her up the evening of the slaying, apparently buying crack with it.
Moser’s sister, Peggy Bryant, was supposed to take him to the VA Hospital in Johnson City that day, but discovered his body when she went to his home.
Bryant testified Tuesday that she called Moser the Monday following the slaying, but the phone was never answered. She went to his house and saw him lying on the floor bleeding, then called 911.
Randy Suisse, Moser’s across-the-street neighbor, testified Wednesday that he knew Moser for 10 years, calling him “Mr. Jim,” and was like “a second father” to him.
Suisse testified that he and his wife, Suzanne, were sitting on their porch the day of the slaying and heard two gunshots that sounded like they were near or inside Moser’s home. He said he tried to call Moser, but there was no answer. He did not go to Moser’s home.
Suisse said he and other neighbors were on Moser’s property when he found out about the killing. He said he saw Rauhuff drive through the neighborhood several times, but he did not stop by the scene.
Suisse said that he had talked to Moser, who told him he was afraid of Summey and thought she was going to kill him.
Suzanne Suisse then took the witness stand, and said she had met Rauhuff through a yard sale she was having, calling him and asking for his help in moving items. She said she called Rauhuff to inform him of Moser’s death, to which he replied, “No (expletive).”
Rauhuff blames Summey
Blount County Sheriff’s Office Detective Doug Davis, the lead investigator in the case, testified Thursday that Rauhuff implicated Summey in the slaying, saying she had a temper and often stole from Moser.
Summey did not have a car, but drove one that may have belonged to her parents. Rauhuff said Summey drove to Moser’s home the day of the slaying, while Rauhuff maintained that he was not there, Davis testified.
Davis said he went to Summey’s home after Moser’s body was discovered, but she denied involvement.
Frazier played a video of an interview Rauhuff conducted with Davis almost a week after the slaying. Rauhuff told Davis the night of the slaying, Summey came over to his home with a large amount of money and wanted to party. He said he wasn’t sure where she got the money, and her parents didn’t trust her.
When he asked Rauhuff if he was a cold-blooded murderer, he tearfully said no.
“I have kids, man. I have never killed anyone in my life,” Rauhuff said in the video.