Accused peeping tom goes to trial - WALB.com, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

Accused peeping tom goes to trial

October 5, 2005

Valdosta - Assistant District Attorney Laura Wood says a picture is worth 1,000 words, and pictures will prove that Rick English is guilty. "In this case, our pictures will tell the story better than any words," said Wood.

English is charged with peeping tom and criminal attempt to tamper with evidence. Investigators say he peered into a 14-year-old girls bedroom, then tried to destroy a motion-sensitive wild game camera after it took pictures of him. The girl's father installed the camera outside her bedroom after noticing fingerprints on her window and shrub damage.

On the night of November 13, 2004, the camera took pictures of English walking between the house and the hedges. "It was a grown man, sneaking behind the bushes," said Wood.

Defense Attorney Sam Dennis also believes the pictures make this case, but he says they prove English's innocence. "He's not looking at the window, facing it, or intending to," said Dennis.

Dennis argues that English was looking for his cat in the bushes near the girls' bedroom. His family lived just a few doors down in the Stone Creek Subdivision. "He needed to go between the house and the hedge to run the cat back out there and get him going in the right direction," said Dennis.

He says English's clothes and demeanor in the pictures show he wasn't doing anything illegal. "He was wearing shoes that had reflective tape on them, not stealthy at all, no camo, no dark clothing, nothing," said Dennis.

After the prosecution rested Wednesday, Dennis made a motion that English be acquitted of all charges, citing insufficient evidence. But the judge ruled that it should be left up to the jury.

If found guilty on both charges, English could face up to six and a half years in prison.

English served as principal of Sallas Mahone Elementary before becoming Chief Financial Officer for Valdosta City Schools.  He has resigned from that position.

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