Former WAFB reporter takes stand in ATC federal trial

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - It was a long day of trial at federal court with the prosecution presenting four witnesses on Friday in the trial against former Alcohol Tobacco and Control Commissioner Murphy Painter.

The first was Kelli Suire-Votaw, Painter's former personal assistant.  Votaw began working at ATC in March 2007 and left in November 2009.  She testified saying "Certain supervisors and I knew the commissioner had access to it."  She was referring to access to the database, Voyager, for background checks.  In reference to what Votaw said were several ATC internal investigations, Votaw said, "He (Commissioner) thought everyone was doing something wrong."

Former WAFB reporter Keitha Nelson was next on the stand telling jurors she met Painter for the first time in 2007 when she went to interview him for a story.  She said she received a call telling her about an outstanding speeding ticket in Livonia through a background check Painter allegedly conducted.  When the defense attorney, Mike Fawler, asked Nelson if she had any idea why the defendant would run her information, she replied, "Not at all.  Makes no sense to me."

Samuel DiVincenti Jr. was the third witness on the stand.  Painter is accused of running a background ck on DiVincenti.  The defense tried proving two specific pictures where DiVincenti was holding a gun, were reason for alarm.  DiVincenti responded with the weapons were not illegal or assault rifles and if someone works for ATC, they should know there's nothing illegal about the pictures.

The prosecution's last witness of the day was Luke Everett, who is a software engineer for the program Voyager that provides the background checks Painter allegedly used.  The prosecution had Everett explain how the system works, who can access it and what information the program provides.  The defense's cross examination lastest nearly two hours.

After four witnesses, the judge called it a day.  Trial is expected to resume Monday morning at 9.