HUNTSVILLE, Ala. -- John Martin, a former employee at St. John the Baptist Catholic Church in Madison, could face up to 10 years in prison if convicted for possession of sexually explicit images of teenagers investigators say they found on his computer in July 2016.
The case could also have a surprise witness.
For Martin’s trial, scheduled for next week, prosecutors want testimony from former Madison County Sheriff's Office investigator Roland Campos, who helped investigate the case.
The wrinkle is Campos was arrested last August and has since been indicted on a sex abuse charge involving a middle school student.
Late Friday afternoon Campos’ attorney Richard Jensen filed a motion with the court asking the judge to quash the subpoena directing him to testify on the state’s behalf against Martin.
The motion argues that Campos’ 5th Amendment right against self-incrimination prevents him from being compelled to testify. It further argues that no defendant can be made to testify in Alabama if he is under indictment and it contends the defense will seek to impeach his credibility by bringing up the criminal case against him.
Madison County District Attorney Rob Broussard said Campos’ role in the case is backed by other evidence.
“The system we live in is the jury can weigh whatever evidence they want, in any matter,” he said. “Frequently we do have witnesses that are compromised in one way or the other. I'm not talking about law enforcement, but just, it's the world we live in.”
Broussard said it’s fortunately rare that prosecutors have to contend with cases that could be hampered by the arrest of a law enforcement officer involved in the investigation.
But Campos' arrest last August led to his resignation from the sheriff's office and that arrest could affect plenty of cases.
“You’d be talking dozens of cases,” Broussard said. “I don't know any exact number, but there's a fair amount of cases that he was involved with that we'll have to make a determination on each case.”
As for Campos’ testimony in the Martin case, Martin’s attorney Bruce Gardner said Friday he doesn’t think he can ask Campos about his indictment as a way to damage his credibility as a witness.
Gardner said Alabama’s Rules of Evidence bar using a charge as a means of impeaching testimony.
While a trial judge is expected to carefully manage the proceedings, both Gardner and Broussard said odd surprises sometimes pop up in trials.
“What you're looking at,” Broussard said, “in any well-run trial, is how far are the limits on any witness? Are we going to now litigate down another path that has nothing to do with this particular accused?”
Broussard said the charge against Campos shouldn't affect his ability to testify about his role in the investigation.
“I think it's a harsh reality in pursuit of the truth.”