Jury selection got under way Thursday in the child molestation trial of former Pasco councilman Chi Flores after the judge denied another motion to dismiss.
It was the third such motion filed in three days by the defense.
Attorney Scott Johnson took issue with only learning Wednesday during a motions hearing that Pasco police Detective Chris Caicedo had talked to Franklin County Deputy Prosecutors Dave Corkrum and Frank Jenny about interviewing the defendant’s daughter.
The conversation happened last summer.
Deputy Prosecutor Maureen Astley said it is the opinion of her office that a detective seeking legal advice is not material and is only subject to discretionary disclosure.
Judge Cameron Mitchell said there was some misconduct on behalf of the state for not telling the defense about the earlier conversation when it came to light as Astley was doing trial preparation Monday with Caicedo.
Prosecutors are not obligated to “to document or disclose every discussion made regarding tactical matters” with police, he said. But once it became clear the subject of that conversation might be used as evidence in the trial, it should have been shared with the defense.
However, the judge added that Johnson has had the opportunity to speak with the investigative detective for months.
Mitchell said he thinks it was a “tactical decision” by Johnson not to do a formal interview with Caicedo, and a lawyer has the right to do that.
But Johnson might have had answers about the delay into interviewing Flores’ daughter, and possibly discovered new information, if he had talked to Caicedo during his own investigation, he said.
Johnson explained to the judge that he rarely interviews the lead detective because they’re not a witness, choosing instead to go off their reports.
Flores, 39, is charged in Franklin County Superior Court with two counts of first-degree child molestation.
He allegedly touched the young girl inappropriately on two separate occasions at his home in 2016. The girl first told a relative last spring, then a school counselor who called police.
Flores’ daughter was in the room both times the alleged victim says she was sexually assaulted. She was interviewed in November and is expected to testify in her father’s trial.
Flores had been on the Pasco City Council for a little over one year. His term ended Dec. 31 after he was defeated in last August’s primary.
The trial started Wednesday, with potential jurors filling out questionnaires. The court on Thursday individually questioned 28 people who said they or someone close to them had been either the victim or the perpetrator of a sex crime.
The lawyers hope to have a jury seated Friday.