Wednesday, April 16, 2014
ALFRED — The judge in the trial of Mark Strong Sr., one of two key defendants in the Kennebunk prostitution case, is trying to decide how much pornography, if any, she will allow prosecutors to show to the jury this week.
Alexis Wright and Mark Strong Sr.
Staff File Photos
Justice Nancy Mills said Monday in York County Superior Court that she wants to decide by Tuesday how many of at least 577 sexually explicit pictures will be presented in court.
Prosecutors say Strong saved the still images while he was in Thomaston, watching a live video stream of Alexis Wright engaging in sex acts with prostitution clients in Kennebunk.
"This is visual surveillance of the prostitution itself," said Deputy District Attorney Justina McGettigan, arguing to show the pictures to the jury.
The issue arose Monday as a state police computer expert testified about computers he analyzed after they were seized from Strong's home and insurance business office in Thomaston in July.
Detective Frederick Williams said he retrieved still images that were saved on Strong's computers from Skype, an online video conference service.
He also retrieved documents that Strong had deleted.
Williams testified that Strong deleted all of his emails on Feb. 15, 2012, the day after police raided Wright's properties in Kennebunk and Wells, in the first police action in the case.
Strong, 57, is charged with conspiring with Wright to run a prostitution business from her Zumba studio in Kennebunk.
He faces 12 counts of promotion of prostitution and one count of conspiring to promote prostitution.
The case has drawn international attention, in part because Wright is suspected of keeping a meticulous list of customers, including prominent figures.
Sixty-six have been charged and 18 had been convicted by the end of last year.
Wright, 30, of Wells, is scheduled to stand trial in May on 106 counts, including promotion of prostitution, engaging in prostitution, violation of privacy, conspiracy, tax offenses and receiving welfare benefits when ineligible.
Williams is expected to testify further about the explicit photos he retrieved from Strong's computers.
Much of Monday's conversation about the pornography took place while the jury was out of the courtroom.
Most of the testimony before the jury Monday focused on the seizure of 86 items from Strong's home and business on July 10, 2012.
Strong's attorney Daniel Lilley said he was willing to concede that Strong had sexual relations with Wright -- but not for money -- that Wright appears to have had sex for money, and that Strong took pictures of her.
But, he argued, showing the explicit pictures would "drown Mr. Strong in prejudicial evidence" without proving that he had any role in prostitution.
"It may be Mr. Strong observed the sexual acts of Ms. Wright with other people, but I don't think it shows promotion of prostitution," Lilley said.
"These are all very sexual acts and very sexual positions."
Mills said she wanted to meet with prosecutors and Strong's attorneys in her chambers to look through the 577 photos at the end of the day of court."The nature of this case is prostitution," Mills said. "I'm trying very hard to protect Mr. Strong's rights, but the state has to be allowed to show its evidence."
On Tuesday, Mills is expected to hear a motion by Strong's attorneys to have the case against him dismissed.
The attorneys claim that prosecutors failed to release key evidence that could have been used in his defense before the trial and failed to meet past deadlines to release that evidence.
In Tuesday morning's hearing, to be held without the jury present, Mills said she expects to hear testimony from Kennebunk police officers regarding the confidentiality of police personnel files.
Strong's attorneys have argued that they are legally entitled to the complete personnel records of all Kennebunk police officers who are scheduled to testify in his trial.
Mills is considering whether a state law making such files confidential has any bearing on the case or whether Strong's constitutional right to a fair trial trumps the confidentiality law.
Kennebunk Police Chief Robert MacKenzie, Lt. Daniel Jones and former Lt. Nicholas Higgins are scheduled to testify, along with an attorney for the town, William Dale.
Scott Dolan can be contacted at 791-6304 or at: