Voyeurism charges dropped against Danville man after more than two years

Published 11:09 am Thursday, November 3, 2016

Charges have been dropped against a Danville man accused of voyuerism in June 2014, after the prosecution was unable to provide any evidence he committed a crime.

Judge Jeff Dotson issued an order to dismiss the charges of voyuerism against Timothy Payne on Oct. 28. In the order, it states that the commonwealth and the defendant had both presented arguments.

The order also explains that the court has heard more than one motion from the defense to dismiss the charges and had given the commonwealth until Sept. 28 to respond to an Aug. 17 order to produce certain items. The deadline was not met.

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The defense filed its first motion to see evidence in July 2014, but that request went unmet.

“The court has been extremely lenient with the commonwealth in providing adequate time and the commonwealth has had ample time to seek and provide basic information and has used its best efforts to provide the information available,” the order states. “The court acknowledges the due diligence of the commonwealth in this matter but notes that information sought from other individuals and agencies has not been provided pursuant to the terms of this court’s order.”

The order also states that there are “substantial and problematic deficits in the proof in this case.”

Payne, then of 1097 Secretariat Dr. in Danville, was arrested at his home in 2014 for allegedly using a video camera to spy on a neighbor who lived at 300 Venetian Way in Danville.

According to files obtained at the Boyle County District Clerk’s Office, Michelle Walls contacted Kentucky State Police on Dec. 2, 2013. On Nov. 30, she found an object in a vent in the bathroom of her home. Her husband, Mark, took the vent apart and they realized the object was a Netgear VueZone wireless camera. Mark Walls had called the company but wasn’t able to get any information, as he was not the purchaser. They searched their residence but did not find any other cameras.

Trooper Jeffrery Stith conducted the investigation, which led to Payne, who was then a manager at Kroger in Danville and neighbor to the Walls family. The camera, according to the file, could transmit up to 300 feet back to a base station and Payne’s residence was within that distance to the Walls residence.

Warrants were issued on Payne’s home, business and car. Multiple computers, storage devices, a camera, camera bag, SD card, a Vue wireless base and an iPhone were taken into evidence. A sample of Payne’s DNA and his fingerprints were also taken.

Payne was charged with voyeurism, a Class D misdemeanor. Payne’s bond agreement included a restriction to remain 500 feet away from the alleged victim, and to wear a GPS monitor.

On July 23, 2014, Hadden Dean, attorney for Payne, filed a motion to obtain audio, video and other evidence that the prosecution planned to use in the case. According to court records, Dean sent a letter to Boyle County Attorney Richard Campbell almost four months later, writing, I understand there are no images that have been found or located on any device, hard drive, computer, thumb drive, cloud site or anywhere else as it relates to Mrs. Walls or her family.”

About 10 months after the discovery motion, in May 2015, another letter from Dean asked Campbell to specify which of about 300,000 files from Payne’s devices the prosecution planned to use as evidence. Dean wrote that the commonwealth’s forensic expert and Campbell had already told him there were no files on Payne’s devices that came from the camera found in the Walls’ home; the only images that were found came from inside Payne’s home; none of the images found “would be described as voyeuristic per the statute;” and there are no images of the alleged victims found anywhere on Payne’s devices.

A June 4, 2015 motion was filed by Dean requesting more of the same information requested in the letters, including a witness list, data to be included, and the request for Payne’s devices to be returned. The court responded on June 18, 2015, with an order allowing the commonwealth to have until July 1, 2015 to respond to the discovery requests and motions.

A motion to dismiss was filed on Dec. 3, 2015, citing eight occasions when “formal requests” had been filed for discovery, or evidence, to be turned over.

The motion said that 10 hearings in the case had been held, and that Payne had lost his employment at Kroger due to the attention the case had attracted.

“He has been sued in a civil lawsuit and has been required by this court to wear and pay for a monitoring and tracking device for a period of 10 months, costing the defendant hundreds, if not thousands of dollars. The defendant has suffered an extreme toll from this case. Emotionally, professionally, and financially, this matter has created strife that is difficult to articulate,” the motion reads. “Ironically, defendant’s sentence if he would have been convicted would have been served out a year ago.”

A motion to dismiss the case was denied by the court on April 15, 2016.

By June 2016, Assistant County Attorney Lynne Dean had been assigned the case and in an email to her on June 14, 2016, Hadden Dean wrote, “I want to reiterate at this time I understand there are not images of voyeuristic nature on any of the data or material presented to us through discovery. If my understanding is inaccurate, please let me know. I think Mr. Campbell confirmed this verbally, but I cannot refer to any specific document, written document or discovery pleading which admits no images exist with regard to this charge of voyeurism.”

In a subsequent email to Lynne Dean on July 20, Hadden Dean said the case had cost Payne over $300,000 in income to date.

Following the Oct. 28 order to dismiss, the county attorney’s office will have the opportunity to appeal. Lynne Dean would not comment on whether or not she plans to do so.

Mark and Michelle Walls have filed two separate civil suits against Payne and his wife Monica, seeking $1 million for invasion of privacy, embarrassment and mental suffering. The civil cases were filed in 2014, but were delayed until the criminal case was resolved, according to Advocate-Messenger news archives.

Follow Kendra Peek on Twitter, @knpeek.