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Loftis attorney claims missing evidence should prompt dismissal of drug, conspiracy case

Peggy Browning / Red Dirt Report
Charles Scott Loftis at his trial at the Kay County Courthouse in Newkirk, Oklahoma.
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PONCA CITY, Okla. – Critical evidence used against Ponca City attorney Scott Loftis in a drug trial last year has vanished, prompting his attorney to argue that some charges, if not the entire case, should be dismissed.

Prosecutors decided in December, almost a year since a judge declared a mistrial because jurors could not reach a unanimous verdict, they would retry Loftis on the drug and conspiracy charges.

Jacqueline Ford, an Oklahoma City criminal defense lawyer now representing Loftis, said drugs and a cell phone once in the possession of the Ponca City Police Department, no longer exist. Loftis faces two felony counts of conspiracy to bring contraband (cell phone) into a penal institution, one felony count of possession of a controlled dangerous substance with intent to distribute and a misdemeanor charge of conspiracy to bring contraband into a penal institution.

But with the key evidence missing, Ford believes the judge in the case may dismiss at least the contraband charges against Loftis.

“The law is heavily on our side. I feel strongly about our success,” she said. “However, it will be up to the court to decide. The court’s hands are often tied when the government loses evidence. We can’t look at it or inspect it to see how many calls were made.”

In the alternative, Ford said she filed other motions last week that would prevent prosecutors from making hearsay comments about the missing evidence in front of the jury. According to Ford, jurors only saw a photograph of the cell phone in the first trial because it had been lost or destroyed before the trial.

Since the conclusion of the 2016 trial, the drugs also have been lost.

“It’s what we call an evidentiary harpoon,” Ford said. “Government witnesses will try to slide in inadmissible testimony they know they can’t get in but the jury has already heard it. We have asked the judge to make a clear ruling that that type of behavior will be not tolerated.”

Loftis’ previous attorney, Creekmore Wallace, had filed a motion to dismiss the case because of a speedy trial issue.

Loftis’ trial ended in February 2016, but prosecutors waited more than 10 months to decide if they would retry the Ponca City attorney. Prosecutors must respond to the defense team’s motions by Feb. 10 with the judge scheduled to issue a written ruling Feb. 14. A trial is set for Feb. 22.

“There are two good chances for this to go away,” Ford said. “The motions give the judge the power and authority to make this go away or Mr. Boring could decide to dismiss all or some of the charges.”

Chris Boring, the Woodward County district attorney, is the prosecutor in this case. Kay County District Attorney Brian Hermanson recused himself from the case because of a conflict of interest. A second DA also recused himself because of conflicts with the Ponca City police department.

Ford emphasized that the prosecution’s star witness, Terome Porter, will not testify at the second trial.

“This would be an incredible waste of judicial time and a waste of taxpayer money,” she said. “It’s difficult to get a conviction when evidence no longer exists and there are no reliable witnesses.”

At one point before the 2016 trial, Ponca City police were accused of coercing Porter to implicate Loftis.

Porter told Ponca City police investigator Tom Duroy that Loftis had taken a cell phone and drugs into the Kay County jail, but later recanted the story in front of a grand jury.

“From my understanding, there were too many false confessions and false statements made during the first trial,” Ford said. “My hope is Judge Duel will put an end to this for everybody.”

Duel is an associate district judge in Logan County, and was assigned to this case because of conflicts of interest by Kay County judges.

Loftis is hoping Ford can get the dismissal he’s been hoping for since he was charged in 2015 – nearly two years after a woman identified as Hollie Kelle made an accusation to Ponca City police that Loftis sold her methamphetamine over 18 months. Prosecutors also allege Loftis smuggled drugs and cell phones into the Kay County Jail for a client.

The 2016 trial wasn’t ordinary, in part, because Loftis wasn’t a run-of- the-mill defendant. He’s a Ponca City defense attorney who received his juris doctorate in 2004 and was named a Rising Star lawyer in 2012 and 2013. He’s defended alleged rapists and won their acquittal.

He filed a bar complaint against a Kay County assistant district attorney who was prosecuted by the Oklahoma Bar Association, an action that didn’t set well with DA Hermanson. Before his election as DA in 2010, Hermanson was best known as the defense lawyer for Terry Nichols, convicted in a state trial for his part in the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing that killed 168 people.

Most damaging of all, Loftis fed an FBI agent information about alleged civil rights violations, drug trafficking and illegal gambling, connecting those nefarious activities to Kay County and state law enforcement officials. Loftis also told the DA he planned to run against him in the 2014 district attorney’s election.

None of those actions made Loftis a popular guy in Kay County law enforcement circles. He was a pariah, an outcast who reportedly needed to be dealt with, court records indicate.

Court documents show Loftis warned Hermanson he would oppose him in the next district attorney’s race. Loftis made his election bid for DA public in June 2013. A month later, Kelle made her accusation.

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Tim Farley

Tim Farley is an award-winning journalist with more than 30 years of experience, including...

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