March 1, 2013

Jurors see sex videos in Zumba trial

Prosecutors show evidence suggesting that Mark Strong watched Alexis Wright have paid sex with her clients.

By Scott Dolan sdolan@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

(Continued from page 1)

In a video from Jan. 23, 2012, Wright appeared alone in the room with the massage table, wearing a sparkly blue dress with a black shawl sweater.

"The worst part about this camera is I have to transfer the video, like, every two clients," Wright said to a man, who did not appear on the screen.

"Yeah, I know," the man replied.

Wright then moved off camera for about a minute before reappearing to ask the man to review "someone for tomorrow" who had given her an email address but no phone number.

"I don't think I can get three in because I have to go to school," Wright said, before taking off her clothes.

In a video from Jan. 3, 2012, Wright appeared wearing a black mini dress in what appeared to be a dance studio space. She placed a call but reached only voice mail.

"You've reached Mark Strong ..." the voice mail message said.

Strong's attorney Daniel Lilley argued after five videos that the prosecution had made its point and that showing any more would be prejudicial.

The lead prosecutor in the case, Deputy District Attorney Justina McGettigan, argued that she was showing only a "small representative sample" of more than 150 videos in evidence.

Lilley said that just because prosecutors have so many videos doesn't mean they should be allowed to show more to the jury. "It matters not how many they have; it's how many they need."

Mills ruled that prosecutors would be allowed to show a total of 15 videos.

In one video, Wright was seen using her phone in the room with the massage table after a man who had been with her left to use the bathroom.

Williams testified that four text messages from Wright's phone were sent to Strong in the time the video was recorded.

Williams read the text messages aloud, including: "He's so nervous," "went to the bathroom" and "did you look up his plate?"

In another video from Jan. 23, 2012, Wright appeared in the same room wearing a short, red backless dress and asked the unseen man to run a license plate number.

"Oh, never mind, that's a woman," Wright said in the video. "I thought that was him. It's not."

The lead investigator in the case, Kennebunk police officer Audra Presby, took the stand briefly Thursday afternoon and began to describe what she did leading up to the first search at Wright's properties in February 2012. Presby is expected to be recalled to the stand Friday.

Strong, 57, faces 12 counts of promotion of prostitution and one count of conspiring to promote prostitution. This is the second week of his trial, which is expected to last more than three weeks.

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.

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 2012.

Strong's attorneys say he was targeted by police for his work as a private investigator looking into unprofessional conduct in the Kennebunk Police Department, including an affair that Presby had with her former supervisor in violation of town policy.

Presby was formally reprimanded, but her supervisor, Lt. Nicholas Higgins, resigned before a discipline hearing could be held.

Scott Dolan can be contacted at 791-6304 or at:

sdolan@pressherald.com

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