The trial for a West Monroe police officer accused of sharing a homemade sex video got underway earlier this week.
Dennis Wall, who is on administrative leave from the West Monroe Police Department, is being prosecuted by Fourth Judicial District Attorney Steve Tew’s office for non-consensual disclosure of a private image and obstruction of justice.
A six-person trial jury was selected Monday and the prosecution and defense began calling witnesses Tuesday. The defense rested its case that afternoon. Monroe attorney Devin Jones is representing Wall.
Wall was arrested last year for sending a sex video of himself and an ex-girlfriend to Michelle Jones, a classroom teacher at West Monroe High School. Jones allegedly sent the sex video and/or images from it to several people, including a high school student.
Tew’s office did not prosecute Michelle Jones, but offered her a diversion agreement guaranteeing her immunity after paying a $650 fine. The woman depicted in the sex video previously objected to Wall’s prosecution, asking that Tew dismiss the criminal charges against him, especially since Michelle Jones escaped prosecution for the same alleged offense.
Assistant District Attorneys Sean Southern and Geary Aycock are handling the prosecution on behalf of Tew’s office. Aycock is Tew’s chief felony prosecutor.
Much of the prosecution’s arguments appeared to depend on testimony from Michelle Jones, who previously acknowledged she was guilty of widely sharing the sex video and/or images though she claimed ignorance that it was unlawful to distribute such material.
The question of Michelle Jones’ supposed ignorance was challenged in testimony provided by West Monroe attorney Dion Young, who testified about his interactions with Michelle Jones in late December 2017 on behalf of Danny Jones and the victim.
The credibility of Michelle Jones’ testimony also was the focus of questions posed to other witnesses by Wall’s attorney, Devin Jones.
Ouachita Parish sheriff’s senior investigator James Humphrey investigated the victim’s complaint in December 2017 about the distribution of the sex video depicting Wall and the victim.
Humphrey took the witness stand Tuesday afternoon, at which time Devin Jones asked Humphrey about how the circumstances of the victim’s complaint squared with Michelle Jones’ testimony.
“Isn’t it a fact that Michelle Jones’ story changes every time she tells it?” said Devin Jones.
“I wouldn’t say it changes, but she adds stuff to it,” Humphrey said.
The obstruction of justice charge against Wall stemmed from the district attorney’s contention that Wall concealed or destroyed his cell phone containing the sex video – evidence – to obstruct the investigation.
Devin Jones asked Humphrey whether the investigator had simply asked Wall to turn in his phone so that investigators could examine it for evidence.
Humphrey admitted he had not asked Wall to do so. Humphrey said he had only spoken about the matter with an attorney representing Wall at the time.
Gary Hodnett, manager at a local Verizon Wireless store, was called to testify about Wall’s purchase of a new phone. According to a transaction receipt, Wall completed the buy-out of his iPhone 7 and bought a new iPhone X.
Based on Humphrey’s testimony, the prosecution argued that Wall had disposed of his iPhone 7 to get rid of the evidence.
In questions posed to him, Hodnett admitted that data stored on an iPhone 7 was stored in the Apple cloud through iTunes, which meant any data stored on Wall’s iPhone 7 could also appear on Wall’s iPhone X. The purchase of a new iPhone did not equate to the obliteration of evidence, Devin Jones argued.
Zach Parker, news editor at The Ouachita Citizen, contributed to this news report.
EDITOR'S NOTE: A previous version of this article incorrectly identified West Monroe attorney Dion Young as Michelle Jones' attorney. Her attorney is Cameron Murray. Young reached out to Jones and Dennis Wall on behalf of Danny Jones, who was his client.