Molestation case moves forward involving former Tahoe teacher
March 28, 2009
SOUTH LAKE TAHOE ” An El Dorado County Superior Court judge denied a defense motion Friday that challenged evidence in the case against a former Lake Tahoe Unified School District teacher facing a charge of molesting a boy.
In the motion, defense attorney Bridget Matos contended that a photograph that allegedly shows Karsten Gronwold, 51, engaged in sexual activity with a 2- to 3-year old boy was improperly submitted by the prosecution during a preliminary hearing last month.
Gronwold is charged with a single count of engaging in a lewd act with a child under 14 years of age. Conviction of the felony carries a maximum penalty of eight years in state prison under California law.
The photograph is allegedly one of hundreds of sexual images of children that authorities found when they served a search warrant at Gronwold’s Washoan Boulevard home on Sept. 1, 2006, and was the only piece of evidence offered by prosecutors during last month’s hearing.
On Friday, Matos said the photo should not have been submitted to the court without testimony to indicate the photo was authentic.
“Prior to that evidence being admitted, there needs to be expert testimony,” Matos said.
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Deputy District Attorney Lisa Serafini disagreed, arguing that nothing in the photo suggests it was altered to implicate Gronwold. The defense has also not offered any evidence disputing the legitimacy of the photograph, Serafini added.
Superior Court Judge Suzanne Kingsbury also disagreed with Matos, but noted that the law requires some evidence to be submitted to suggest the photo is authentic. The judge found a witness’s identification of Gronwold as the man in the photo was sufficient for the photo to be submitted to the court.
The next hearing in the case is scheduled for April 16.
In February 2008, a federal judge sentenced Gronwold to just over eight years in prison for possession of child pornography. The conviction stemmed from photos found during the 2006 search of Gronwold’s home.
In El Dorado County Superior Court on Friday, the attorney for accused killer Ulysses Roberson said she will move to have his trial heard away from the South Shore.
Monica Lynch said she intends to show sufficient prejudice exists against Roberson among members of the South Shore jury pool to move the case elsewhere.
Roberson is charged with murdering his 4-year-old son in a Tahoe Keys home in 1985. Although the body of Alexander Olive has not been found, prosecutors believe they have enough circumstantial evidence to convict Roberson on the murder charge.