Law enforcement officials testify in Loftis trial
Ponca City Now - February 26, 2016 9:16 am
By Beverly Bryant/News Director
Testimony continued Thursday in the trial of Ponca City attorney Scott Loftis in Kay County District Court.
Witness Kayla Woods continued her testimony under defense attorney Creekmore Wallace’s cross examination. He questioned Woods extensively about a plea agreement she entered in exchange for her testimony. The agreement with the District Attorney’s office required her to testify truthfully and submit to routine drug testing. She would receive a 20-year suspended sentence on possession of controlled dangerous substances and knowingly concealing stolen property.
In Thursday morning’s testimony, Wallace presented an affidavit that Woods signed and asked her if it was correct.
There were four paragraphs which Woods said were not true when she signed the document.
Wallace also asked about a recording of Woods’ testimony at a preliminary hearing, which Woods said she never received.
Wallace said Woods never returned to court during that hearing after Judge Hudson recalled her to return.
Woods testified that what she had said about Ponca City Police Lt. Tom Duroy in a February 2011 interview was not true. She said she lied about what was in three envelopes she delivered to Loftis at his office and did not tell him the envelopes contained tobacco and drugs.
She said she had no knowledge of Loftis being involved in taking contraband to the Kay County Detention Center.
About a week after signing the affidavit, Woods was arrested for bond jumping and possession of marijuana, but was not charged.
In April 2015, the District Attorney’s office moved to revoke the plea agreement with Woods. She said she was aware of one warrant that was issued for her arrest. She said she turned herself in, paid her bond and came into compliance with the requirements of drug court.
Wallace asked about several cases involving Woods. She was facing 30 years in prison in the cases and an additional 38 years for violation of her suspended sentence.
Wallace said she remained out of custody, failed to report to her parole officer and on June 10, 2014, tested positive for the use of methamphetamine. He listed several other drugs which Woods admitted to using and which she said affected her memory and attitude.
After a break, testimony continued about text messages between Woods and Loftis in which she said he was heading to the attorney’s office, at the direction of Jerome Porter, the twin brother of Terome Porter, convicted of first-degree murder.
Woods said she told Ponca City Police Corporal Dana Wilson the envelopes were empty when she took them to Loftis. Wallace asked her if she had told Lt. Duroy the envelopes contained pictures and she said yes.
Woods said the envelopes were sealed when she took them to Loftis’ office and were about a half-inch thick. There were no photos in them, and the tobacco and drugs were wrapped in newspaper.
She said she told Corp. Wilson that someone had dropped off the envelopes to her.
Woods said when she signed the affidavit, she was supposed to get money on her books at the jail, but that did not happen. She was arrested again 18 days later.
She was asked about the signatures on the affidavit and who made those signatures. She answered that she could not read them and did not know who signed. She said she had never met Myra Deibler, who was Loftis’ legal assistant and who notarized the affidavit. Again she said she was promised money and legal representation in exchange for the affidavit.
Woods confessed she was at a friend’s house getting high on methamphetamine when she signed the affidavit and no notary was present. Wallace asked if she knew her friend was making a video of her signing the document and she said she was not.
Corp. Wilson testified about his 15 years of service as a patrolman and his work on the drug task force, with several years of training in narcotics investigations and identifications. He said he was trained to identify many drugs and described a field test which gave presumptive identification of the drugs, which then were sent to the Oklahoma Bureau of Investigation for further testing.
He said he was working Nov. 23, 2011, when he was directed by his shift lieutenant to go to Loftis’ office at 400 East Central to meet Loftis, Gale McArthur and Myra Deibler about a package they had just received containing narcotics. Loftis said Woods had dropped off three envelopes and asked him to take them to Terome Porter at the Kay County Detention Center.
The envelopes contained loose tobacco, loose marijuana and a dirty-looking powder, Wilson said. Wilson prepared a report. McArthur had prepared a written affidavit at the time, he said.
Wilson took the items to the police department where he photographed them and conducted a field test to identify the substances.
Later that evening, Wilson said, he became aware Woods was in a vehicle that was stopped on a traffic stop in Ponca City, and he conducted an interview then. Wilson said Woods told him that a lady had dropped the envelopes off with her to drop off at Loftis’ office for delivery to Terome Porter.
Wallace asked Wilson if there was anything wrong with Loftis, Deibler and McArthur reporting the crime, and Wilson said no. He said the three were all cooperative in his investigation. There was no cause for them to be arrested.
Wilson said he did not know if Woods was arrested that night, but he did not have probable cause to arrest her. He took a report for a warrant request, he said. Wilson said Woods was not forthcoming about the identification of the woman she said dropped the envelopes off to her.
Myra Deibler testified that she was a legal assistant for Loftis from November 2011 to March 2015. On Nov. 23, 2011, she said, a woman delivered three envelopes to the office and left them on Loftis’ desk, then left. She said Loftis was surprised when a white substance came out of one envelope and then opened the envelopes and called police.
Deibler said she also texted a friend to ask for District Attorney Brian Hermanson’s cell phone number.
She was asked about notarizing affidavits and said it was the duty of a notary to watch an individual sign the document. She said she watched a video of Woods signing an affidavit and one other individual. She said that was not a common practice.
During afternoon testimony, the attorneys questioned Jason Bell of the Kay County Sheriff’s Office. Prior to 2012, he was a detention officer at the Kay County Detention Center. He said that on Nov. 30, 2011, he was returning Terome Porter to his cell from the projects room/law library, and conducted a pat-down. He found something on Porter’s inner thigh and contacted his supervisor, who conducted a strip search. The search revealed a cell phone and charger in a plastic sandwich bag.
Jody Burd, who now works for the Osage Nation in Pawhuska, was director of the Kay County Detention Center from 2011 to 2014 and was in charge of the day-to-day operations. He said he was notified in November 2011 that the phone was found on an inmate. He conducted an internal investigation as the chief of security and checked to see who was called on the phone and for what purpose.
He was asked about the detention center’s policies on signing visitors in and out of the center. He said there was an “honor system” as far as lawyers signing in and out.
He testified there were cameras in the detention center but not in the professional visitation room, which is used by bondsmen, attorneys and clergy. He described the visitation room as a small room with a glass partition which included a bank teller’s slot for the exchange of paperwork.
During the investigation, he said, he discovered the phone had been activated on Oct. 20 and was found Nov. 30. He said he did not recall if video was checked to determine who delivered the phone, but there was an automatic camera dump which erased video after a certain time.
Harold Hughes, who was the deputy director and jail administrator at the Kay County Detention Center, testified the cameras in the jail were specified by an engineer and architect for that purpose.
He said a camera was on an individual from the time they came into the facility until they left, but there was no camera in the professional visitation room.
He said cameras are now installed in the room on both sides of the partition. A metal bar was installed on the bank teller slot to reduce the space through which items could be shared.
Hughes testified that the day after the cell phone was found on Porter, he reviewed the report and examined the phone. He turned it on and found it was password protected. He contacted the carrier and got a copy of the call history and checked it for any calls to detention officers or other staff members. Hughes said he found numerous numbers belonging to jail staff.
He also found one number belonging to Loftis, he said.
Hughes said Porter had the phone, and if he wanted to talk to an attorney, he would call his own attorney, Cheryl Ramsey of Stillwater.
Hughes said Porter never said how he got the phone.
Kyle Hartwig, who has been a law enforcement officer since July 1994, testified he worked for the Noble County Sheriff’s Office and then the Eighth District District Attorney’s office until 2013.
He was made aware that a phone was found in the detention center and received a pritnout of the calls and texts from that phone.
He confirmed that Loftis’ phone was dialed from the cell phone and calls were also made to his office land line. Hartwig said a call was made on Nov. 22, 2011, the day the three envelopes were delivered to Loftis’ office.
Hartwig noted that calls were made to Kayla Woods, Scott Loftis and either Pam Miller or Pam Turner on Nov. 22 or 23.
He said he contacted Lt. Tom Duroy with the Ponca City Police Department to ask for his help with a locator service called TLO. He said TLO would show who owned the phone, and who was at the address. Hartwig said he asked Duroy to run the contraband phone numbers through TLO.
He testified he talked to Kevin Phillips. He said Phillips’ primary concern was to protect his ex-wife, and he agreed to participate in this prosecution if she was not charged.
Phillips said he did not know who provided Porter’s phone, Hartwig said.
Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation Agent Richard D. Brown testified that he was contacted by the District Attorney’s office in 2012 to conduct a forensic download of text messages on Loftis’ cell phone. He said Agent Larry Vogle provided extracted text messages from the phone based on certain keyword searches. Brown said he reviewed the messages for content, including any messages about taking drugs and contraband into the detention center. He said he extracted 12,300 messages.
Specifically, Brown said, he found Tyrone Porter’s and Kayla Woods’ phone numbers and extracted the content of those messages.
He then color coded those messages on a form according to whom the conversations involved.
He said the entire CD of the messages was available as well as the information on the color-coded form. He said the form was intended to mark areas that may be of specific interest to investigators.
Brown said he did not know Gale McArthur was a named co-conspirator along with Terome Porter, Loftis and Woods.
Defense attorney Wallace asked Brown if he would agree that the summary was incomplete because of the information he was given to search for.
“My main thing was to evaluate the conversations among these people,” Brown said.
He said he also was not advised of Terome Porter’s identical twin, Jerome Porter, until much later.
Testimony in the case continues Friday.
Judge Louis Duel said Thursday testimony in the case could continue until Tuesday.