Tillmon continuance may lead to delay in sentencing of other Rockfish defendants

Published 9:39 am Thursday, September 15, 2016

By Lance Martin

GREENVILLE – With a continuance granted in the trial of Operation Rockfish defendant Antonio Tillmon, the sentencing of the other 14 who took pleas in the police corruption case is also expected to be continued.

Jury selection for Tillmon’s trial is now set for Oct. 24 in Greenville, federal court records show.

The court records show a motion requesting the continuance for the 14 originally scheduled for sentencing next month has already been filed.

Tillmon is a former officer with the Windsor Police Department. Included among the remaining defendants in the case are several former deputies with the Northampton County Sheriff’s Office and a former E-911 dispatcher once employed by Northampton County.

“The defendants respectfully request the sentencings be reset for a date after the trial of codefendant Antonio Tillmon,” the motion filed Monday by his attorney, Jason Brenner, says. “It is the understanding of the above-captioned defendants that the government does not intend to call them as witnesses at the Tillmon trial. Regardless, the defendants contend as a matter of judicial economy and efficiency that all sentencings should occur at the same term of court.”

The motion notes Assistant United States Attorney Lauren Bell objects to the motion.

In the motion for a continuance in Tillmon’s trial, Brenner notes, “In defense counsels’ 60 years of collective law practice experience this is by a wide margin the most complicated from a technological standpoint.”

The motion notes there were more than 2,500 individual audio or visual files provided to counsel in discovery. “The format of these files has been challenging and has involved several case managers, a forensic expert, transcription, and the assistance of others.”

Brenner notes in all the files and hundreds of hours of recordings, ”there is only one, poor quality several second recording where any specific mention of ‘drugs’ or ‘heroin’ is ever allegedly made in Mr. Tillmon’s presence.”

Brenner notes in the motion he has requested access to what he calls “the alleged warehouse site” from the government and learned that a motion for such access may be necessary. “An inspection and a defense presentation concerning this are important in this matter. Counsel expects to file a motion in the coming days seeking this access.”

In the motion, Brenner enumerates other reasons for the requesting the continuance:

Counsel originally requested a forensic copy of Tillmon’s two cell phones. Counsel has not received the results of an inspection of them.

Dr. Frank Wood informed counsel he needed to administer one more test of Tillmon to complete his work.

“This is an exceptionally serious case in which the government charged Mr. Tillmon with a forty-year mandatory minimum sentence,” the motion says. “Counsel has worked diligently throughout the course of this defense including working with three expert witnesses, conducting extensive trial preparation to date including drafting approximately ten trial motions and supporting memoranda that shall be filed in advance of trial, researching and preparing complicated proposed jury instructions on the matters of entrapment, derivative entrapment (for which there is currently a Circuit split), and preparing other trial matters.”

(Lance Martin is Editor and Publisher of www.rrspin.com. Permission was granted to print this story.)