BECKLEY (AP) — Authorities in Raleigh County will give only paper evidence to defense lawyers after a video of a confidential informant’s interview with a police detective appeared on YouTube.
“Until we are able to figure this out, we will only give paper discovery. If a defense lawyer wants to review video or audio footage, they will have to come to the prosecuting attorney’s office or the police department,” Raleigh County prosecutor Kristin Keller told The Register Herald. “We are not blaming anyone and I have had nothing but support from the public defender’s office, but we just want to ensure this can never happen again.”
Beckley police have charged three people with intimidation of a state witness in connection with the video, which is evidence in a drug case against one suspect, 29-year-old Richard James Pfost.
The other suspects are Pfost’s brother, 28-year-old Michael Matthew Pfost, and 25-year-old Semaj Nygee Lowery.
Detective Lt. Gant Montgomery told the newspaper that police gave the video of his interview with the informant to Richard Pfost’s lawyer on May 1. The next day, it appeared on YouTube.
Police have not determined who posted the video online.
Montgomery said the informant called him and told him about the video appearing on YouTube. The informant also told the detective that threats had been made again him.
Acting on an anonymous tip a couple days later, police found the Pfost brothers at a Beckley apartment and arrested them on unrelated charges.
Montgomery said Richard Pfost denied any involvement with the video’s posting on YouTube. Pfost told Montgomery that he had viewed some of the video during a meeting with his lawyer.
Police later searched Lowery’s residence and found a DVD copy of the interview.
Keller called the incidence “stupid and extremely dangerous.”
The Pfost brothers were being held Friday at the Southern Regional Jail. Lowery remains free on bond.