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Tonya Craft: Teacher on Trial (Day Nine)

THURSDAY, APRIL 22

Follow WRCB's Melydia Clewell and Callie Starnes on Twitter. Get updates from the field and courthouse at Facebook.com/WRCBtv. Legal analysis on-air from WRCB Legal Analyst McCracken Poston.

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Update 6:20pm

Court done for day. Doesn't mean Det. Deal is finished. The state did not rest as some expected.

Update 5:15pm

Deal to King: "I would certainly remember someone sticking finger in my rectum more than a conversation with you"

State attorneys huddling together at their desk.

Deal admits on stand to changing the girl's answer to a question.

Update 5:10pm

Attorney Scott King is leaning on ledge of witness stand while he goes line by line asking questions.

Girl told Deal first touch was inside clothes, second time inside. Deal says she was telling truth both times.

Update 5pm

Deal says he didn't think it was important that little girl gave two different answers about what she was for Halloween. 

Attorney Scott King is referring to transcript of interview with girl. He has yellow post-its stuck to a lot of the pages.

Deal says he told girl she wouldn't get anyone in trouble by telling him anything. Points to Tonya Craft and says she got herself in trouble. 

Update 4:50pm

Deal says he told girl 3 times he was a police officer to make her feel comfortable in interview. Tonya Craft about 2 hours ago via web

Deal says girl came up with name "evil one" for Tonya Craft when asked if it was suggestive for girl's mother to call Craft that.

Update 4:40pm

Deal says he told mother of alleged victim to let investigators ask girl questions, and not to ask herself.

 Deal says Thorne asking girl more than a dozen times if there was anything else to tell was "proper".

Update 4:30pm

Detective's summary and Thorne's summary are different. One says girl said Tonya Craft used "finger", other "fingers". Deal says its a typo.

Deal being questioned about alleged molestation that was not caught on tape when Suzie Thorne interviewed one of children.

Update 4:15pm

Deal says his colleague, Det. Steve Keith, called him and said 1 of 3 alleged victims had more info to tell after 1st interview. Tonya Craft about 3 hours ago via web

Update 3:45pm

Court back in session. Deal back on stand.

Update 3pm

Court takes a break

Update 2:45pm

Both of state's attorneys are low in their chairs, hands propping up their heads as defense keeps on going.

Deal asked about girl saying Tonya Craft lied about something. Deal says that is an indicator that someone told her that.

Update 2:40pm

Scott King has told Det. Deal many times today, "we'll talk more about that later".

Child told Deal her dad asked her many questions before coming to interview. Deal says he thinks she was advised to tell truth.

Det. Deal says child in one interview corrected him on suggestible questions.

King now asking Det. Deal about repeated questions and their influence.

Update 2:25pm

Det. Deal says it is not uncommon for a sexual abuse victims to disclose much later in life.

Attorney Scott King asking Det. Deal about cases involving false allegations.

Det. Deal just made reference to the media and Tonya Craft's "cronies" as making case hard for alleged victims to go through.

Attorney Scott King continues to say he "appreciates that" when Det. Deal provides more information that he is asked to.

Update 2:15pm

Defense asking about potential motives for parents of alleged victims to accuse Tonya Craft. Deal says he checked on a few leads.

This afternoon there are more people sitting on Tonya Craft's side of the courtroom, opposite of this morning.

Deal says caretaker interviews were done with mother of one of the alleged victims prior to interviewing little girl

Update 1:50pm

Deal says he didn't list the child as a suspect because she was too young to be arrested for a crime.

Det. Steve Keith lists on of three alleged victims as a suspect in the case for child-on-child crime.

Det. Deal documented the name of Tonya Craft's street as ____ Lane. Defense says it was actually ____ Drive.

Det. Deal doesn't recall the word "love" being written on sidewalk with chalk. Testimony from previous witness included that word.

Update 1:30pm

Tonya Craft was arrested three months before doctor signed off on report of girls' medical exams.

Update 1:22pm

Scott King asked Detective Deal why they didn't search Tonya Craft home. He says allegations didn't involve objects or porn.

Court back in session. Detective Deal back on stand.

NOON

Break for lunch. Back at 1:15pm. Defense says it has a whole new set of questions.

Deal says he talked to Walker Co. Sheriff and was told someone other than Tonya Craft was accused of abusing one of three alleged victims.

Questioning now turning to term "mandating reporter" - term that binds medical professionals to report abuse.

Deal says sometimes child victims don't disclose in first interview.

Deal says mother of alleged victim told him she would not bring her child down for another interview, or answer any more questions.

Deal says he talked to Walker County Sheriff and was told someone other than Tonya Craft was accused of abusing one of three alleged victims.

Update 11:40am

Deal says it was intentional that in each of interviews with girls he left room for a moment.

Deal says Catoosa Co. Sheriff's office doesn't have a protocol for interviewing children but follows the circuit's guidelines.

Deal says he didn't document conversation with dad of one of alleged victims in which dad informed him he didn't know anything.

Deal says he also did not interview father of another alleged victim because he was having a "difficult time"

Deal says he didn't document conversation with dad of one of alleged victims in which dad informed him he didn't know anything.

A lot of confusion between witness and defense about pronunciation of child's name. So many in this case sound similar.

Deal being asked about inconsistencies in alleged victims' testimony. He has been allowed to be in courtroom through it all.

Update 11:35am

Deal says he didn't interview children who were allegedly present when abuse happened, just kids who accused

Update 11:15am

Deal says he didn't feel it was necessary to get medical records of three girls. He says it is not routine to do that if Doctor did not report abuse.

Deal says he also did not interview the three girls' pediatricians.

Deal says none of the allegations were said to have happened in school building, that's why he didn't interview anyone there.

Deal says he didn't interview teachers, para pros, etc. about Tonya Craft because that wouldn't have been "unfair" to Craft.

Deal says it would have been unfair to interview people who didn't disclose allegations against Tonya Craft.

Update 11am

Deal says he taught father of one of alleged victims in Vacation Bible School years and years ago. Says that was a long time ago

Deal being asked a lot of questions about difficulty in conducting investigation when having relationship with those involved.

Update 10:50am

Deal just asked defense attorney if he had a memory problem, as he is asked the same question in different ways.

Defense asks if training taught Deal to address jury. He says maybe, but addressing jury with answers is important.

Update 10:40am

Deal says the training has taught him to tell truth not how to answer questions in cross examination.

Deal testifies he has taken courses on how to be professional in the courtroom.

Defense now asking Det. Tim Deal questions. Beginning with questions about his training.

Court back in session.


Update 10:20am

Court taking a 10 minute break.

Deal asked to identify TonyaCraft, he does by pointing to her and describing her clothing and hair.

Judge sustained objection. Moving on.

Both sets of attorneys at bench discussing very quietly the objection.

Deal asked by state how opening arguments made him feel, particularly when defense stated the case was all a set up. Defense objected. 

Update 10:15am

Deal says he doesn't seek out cases, his job keeps him busy enough.

Deal says types of predators vary. Says "there's not one type, not stereotypical guy in a trench coat."

Deal describes his time on the task force as "To Catch a Predator" - NBC Dateline show. Says his job is "proactive".

Deal says it's very common for a victim not to tell all that perpetrator does about molestation.

Update 10:10am

Det. Deal asked about trends in cases. Says it's not uncommon for perpetrators to have collection of photos of victims.

Deal says he then interviewed a teacher and the principal of school where Tonya Craft taught.

Update 9:55am

Deal says he only interviewed those who came to him, he didn't want to seek out interviews and conduct a "witch hunt"

Deal asks girl in interview if she's ready to go. She says she wants to stay and color.

Det. Deal tells girl he will be right back, leave interview room. Tape still rolling in courtroom.

Update 9:25am

Girl in video tells Deal that she was touched by Tonya Craft and another child.

Jury has copies of transcript. Video of second interview is rolling.

Deal in video asks little girl how she has been since last interview. She sounds very shy.

Update 9:20am

The same day Tonya Craft turned herself in, Deal says a second interview was done w/ one of three alleged victims.

Deal says the next day. Tonya Craft turned herself in.

Deal says warrants were obtained on Tonya Craft on June 10, 2008.

Deal is going through time line of interviews he conducted and why.

Update 9:15am

Deal says child told him that one of the alleged victims fondled her.

Deal says little girl told him about "girlfriend-boyfriend" game, one has says he's heard about many times in interviews.

Deal testifying about interview with child that's not one of the three alleged victims.

Deal testifies he didn't arrest Tonya Craft following allegations because, "there was more information to gather."

Everyone back in the courtroom. Det. Tim Deal called back to the stand.

Update 9:05 a.m.

First up, judge takes attorneys from both sides into chambers for closed door meeting.

Update 7:00 a.m.

The Tonya Craft child molestation trial resumes at 9:00 a.m. today. Wednesday ended with the lead detective testifying.

Catoosa County Detective Tim Deal described Craft as very emotional when he first mentioned the allegations to her. Deal says her face became so red, it almost looked purple. He said the thought she would hyperventilate.  

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