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Adkins: mobile pix mysteriously disappeared

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by Mindy Aguon

Guam - When an individual is arrested by police and their property or any other items that are essential to the investigation, the evidence is strictly controlled with custody receipts and detailed logs of where the item goes and who views it.  But a local businessman who claims he was wrongfully arrested and detained last year contends photos that he took that resulted in his arrest last year have mysteriously disappeared while in police custody.

Local businessman James Adkins wants to know where the photographs that he took on his cell phone of a car crash in October of last year are.  Adkins is suing the Attorney General, Police Chief Paul Suba, and officers D.B. Anciano and Serafino Artui.  He argues that he was illegally arrested, detained and incarcerated after he took photos on his cell phone of a car crash that happened near Paseo De Oro.

Magistrate Judge Joaquin Manibusan ordered GPD to return his cell phone that was seized following the arrest.  When Adkins retrieved the phone though, he was able to retrieve all the photos he'd taken before on his cell phone - with the exception of the photos from the crash.  According to the latest filing with the District Court, Adkins believes his cell phone was tampered with while in police custody, where it was supposed to have been secured as it was logged in as evidence.

According to court documents, Adkins and his attorney, Anita Arriola, were able to determine that police logged his cell phone into evidence the day he was arrested.  A day later the phone was logged into the evidence box.  And an hour later, the cell was logged into the vault/bin at GPD.  For several months there's no activity as the phone remained in GPD's Evidence Section.  On December 3, Adkins filed his civil suit and four days later, the phone was signed out for retrieval of evidence. 

Three times on December 7, the phone changed hands and was signed out for evidence analysis.  Adkins in his report to the court noted that the custody receipt had a hand written note that the cell phone was to be relinquished by a certain police officer "by direction and verbal request standing instruction by Mr. Jim Mitchell - GPD's legal counsel."

Adkins also confirmed that his phone sustained water damage and believes that his cell phone was tampered with and the photos he took of the car crash were intentionally deleted.  Because the court had ordered that all photos on his cell phone be preserved, Adkins has now asked that the court allow him to send the phone and the memory card to data recovery specialists in California to retrieve the photos that he maintains "are the crux of his case against the defendants".

Attorney Arriola wrote, "The photographs were last seen by plaintiff when he took them, but after being in GPD's possession and control, they have mysteriously vanished from plaintiff's cell phone and memory card."  Arriola and her client declined to comment today and Attorney Mitchell declined to do an interview as well, saying he cannot discuss litigation matters.

Mitchell adds he will file related documents next week.

Magistrate Judge Joaquin Manibusan is scheduled to hear motions to dismiss for Attorney General Alicia Limitaco, Chief Suba, and officers Anciano and Artui next week Tuesday in the District Court.

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