Prosecution rests in Painter trial, defense calls first witness

Murphy Painter makes his way to the federal courthouse Monday morning.
Murphy Painter makes his way to the federal courthouse Monday morning.

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - The prosecution in the federal trial of former Alcohol and Tobacco Control Commissioner Murphy Painter rested its case Tuesday and the defense called its first witness to the stand.

Just prior to calling the law enforcement expert to the stand, defense attorneys asked the judge to throw out all 32 charges against Painter. The defense argued the state did not produce evidence beyond a reasonable doubt. Judge James Brady said he would wait to rule on the request.

Earlier in the day, the prosecution presented four final witnesses. Two alleged victims, an inspector general agent and a former ATC employee, Trevor McDonald, took the stand Tuesday.

McDonald testified he conducted an internal audit in 2010 on the amount of usage for the database Voyager, which was used for background checks. The prosecutor asked McDonald if he found anything concerning on Painter.

"The number of criminal histories Mr. Painter had run," McDonald said.

The state asked why that concerned him.

"For his position in the agency, it seemed like a high number of checks that were run. So, I gave that information to my supervisor," McDonald replied.

The case against Painter could be in the hands of a jury before the end of the week.


Painter, 59, is accused of performing illegal background checks on hundreds of people, mainly women. He is being represented by attorney Michael Fawer, a high-profile lawyer out of New Orleans.

Painter was indicted on computer fraud, making false statements and aggravated identity theft by a grand jury on May 23, 2012. He pleaded not guilty to the charges on June 13, 2012. A judge released him on his own recognizance, so he is allowed to remain free throughout the trial.

Inspector General Stephen Street said Kelli Suire claimed Painter was stalking her. He said investigators later found Painter used state and Federal Bureau of Investigations databases to get personal information about Suire and her attorney, Jill Craft.

US Attorney Don Cazayoux said if Painter is convicted of the above charges, he could face a maximum of 82 years in prison and fines up to more than $12 million.

The indictment alleges Painter made false statements to FBI agents. He is accused of using law enforcement databases for "non-official criminal justice purposes." The indictment also claims Painter exceeded his authorized access and obtained person identification information on several people throughout the area.

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