Trial delayed after Gwaltney fires attorney

Published 9:46 am Tuesday, August 23, 2016

A trial scheduled to begin today for a Carter County man charged with sexually abusing an infant has been postponed after the man fired his defense attorney last week.
Mark Alan Gwaltney, 50, of the Happy Valley community, was scheduled to stand trial today on two counts of aggravated rape of a child, one count of aggravated sexual battery and five counts of especially aggravated sexual exploitation of a minor.
On August 16, attorney Gregory Norris, who had represented Gwaltney, filed a motion with Carter County Criminal Court asking permission to withdraw from the case.
In his motion, Norris states that the family of Gwaltney had called his office at 8:37 p.m. on August 15 and left a voicemail saying Gwaltney no longer wanted Norris to represent him on the case.
“The defendant is aware that this matter is scheduled for trial on the 23rd day of August 2016, and the defendant does not wish to proceed in said trial with Gregory S. Norris as his counsel,” Norris said in the motion. “Due to the defendant terminating the attorney/client relationship, it is impossible for Gregory S. Norris to remain as counsel.”
On Wednesday, Aug. 17, Criminal Court Judge Lisa Rice, who is presiding over the case, signed an order of withdrawal allowing Norris to withdraw as Gwaltney’s attorney of record.
Gwaltney appeared in court Monday morning and filed a request seeking a court-appointed attorney to represent him. Rice denied Gwaltney’s request for appointed counsel on the grounds that he is not indigent and scheduled him to return to court on Sept. 30 with a new attorney.
Gwaltney’s decision to terminate Norris came days after Rice denied a motion by the defense to suppress evidence in the case which the defense said officers violated Gwaltney’s rights in obtaining. Rice ruled on August 11 that the evidence collected by officers — including videos which allegedly show Gwaltney sexually abusing an infant — would be admissible at trial.
The charges against Gwaltney stem from an investigation that began on Oct. 31, 2015, after a man and woman reported to officers the woman’s teenage daughter had discovered videos on an iPod owned by Gwaltney that allegedly depicted him sexually abusing the couple’s 8-month-old infant son.
According to court documents, the teenage girl asked Gwaltney if she could borrow his iPod and he allowed her to use it. The girl told officers while she was using the iPod she discovered the videos and used her phone to make a second-hand recording before returning the iPod to Gwaltney. The man and woman showed the second-hand video to officers who responded to the scene.
Officers later arrested Gwaltney at a home in Johnson City and located the iPod while performing an inventory search of his vehicle prior to having it towed.

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