A suppression hearing in the case of a Maryville man facing federal child pornography charges was moved back Friday from May 22 to June.
Prosecutors and defense attorneys for George Edward Robert Everhart debated Friday if forensic digital analyst Richard Green is qualified to testify on internet protocol addresses, cloud storage services, and the legality of searching unallocated computer space.
“The court ultimately chose to continue the hearing at 9:30 a.m. June 14,” lead prosecutor Matthew Morris said.
The hearing first was rescheduled on April 29, after Everhart’s attorneys, Gena Lewis and T. Scott Jones, didn’t notify prosecutors on time that Green was hired to testify that evidence obtained from Google and Charter Communications should be excluded as “fruit of the poisonous tree.”
The term refers to evidence that is illegally or improperly obtained.
Green also was expected to testify on what happens when Google and computer files are deleted, which the prosecution claimed is both irrelevant and out of his scope of expertise.
The investigation of Everhart began after Google administrators provided the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children with pornographic photos from his storage account that then were forwarded to federal authorities.
The defense previously petitioned to exclude evidence found on his computer hard drive because a search warrant didn’t specifically mention unallocated space.
Unallocated space is unused hard drive storage that isn’t formatted and renamed as a storage partition.
Everhart withdrew another motion April 29 to exclude statements he made to investigators at work regarding his email account — statements his attorneys had claimed were coerced.
Green originally planned to testify remotely on April 29, which prosecutors said would prevent cross examination, while using his resume and curriculum vitae as proof of his expertise.
It lists many credentials but none show Green, who also is a licensed private detective, was employed or certified through Google or its parent company, Alphabet Inc.
The defense also planned to ask Green to describe how he could tell if photos and other evidence were automatically or manually uploaded to Google’s cloud storage system.
The defense also questions if Google acted as a governmental agent in accessing and disclosing child pornography or other prohibited content without disclosing its policy to users.
Gmail users are offered a blanket statement containing the phrase, “as required by law,” which the defense rejects is sufficient to warn users that private content is policed and reported by employees.
Technical service companies require customer service representatives, corporate engineers, HR personnel and other employees who may come into contact with private user content to sign contracts specifying legal disclosure policies and account breach penalties, including potential litigation and imprisonment for ID fraud, but those documents also aren’t in the public domain.
Everhart, 30, was indicted June 19 on charges of producing child pornography and possessing and distributing child pornography showing a child younger than 12 that was transported in interstate or foreign commerce.
Former Manhattan District Attorney prosecutor Gretchen Mohr also joined Morris as co-counsel on Tuesday.