Peel's criminal trial begins March 13

Ann Knef Mar. 8, 2007, 9:58am

The trial of attorney Gary Peel who was indicted last year on charges of bankruptcy fraud, obstruction of justice and possession of child pornography will get under way next week at the federal courthouse in East St. Louis.

Jury selection will begin at 10 a.m. on Tuesday, March 13.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Kevin Burke is prosecuting the case.

U.S. District Judge William Stiehl last week ordered Peel, represented by federal public defender Phillip Kavanaugh III, to provide the government a written summary of the testimony he expects his expert witness to provide.

Peel wants a certified public accountant and certified valuation analyst Thomas L. Hoops to offer his opinion as to the value of his estate and his ex-wife, as well as the value of certain assets, had those assets been distributed in accordance with several divorce settlement proposals between he and his ex-wife.

Peel's four-count indictment alleges that in 1974 he took sexually explicit photographs of his then-wife's 16-year-old sister, and retained those photographs.

In November 2003, Peel and his wife divorced and entered into a settlement under which he had to meet certain financial obligations.

In July 2005, Peel filed for bankruptcy, and sought discharge of financial obligations to his ex-wife who was listed as a creditor. His ex-wife opposed the discharge and Peel is alleged, on Jan. 20, 2006, to have telephoned his ex-wife and revealed that he had a sexual relationship with her sister during their marriage and had taken pictures of her.

He is alleged to have told his ex-wife that copies of the pictures were in her mailbox and that if she did not agree to the discharge he would mail the pictures to his ex-wife's parents.

In an order entered March 1, Stiehl wrote that Peel must provide prosecutors with "any conclusions Hoops may be called upon to make at trial."

"The Court finds that such a summary is reasonable...," Stiehl wrote.

Burke has argued that Hoops' testimony is not relevant.

At a hearing in February, Kavanaugh said, "The relevancy of our expert's testimony turns almost exclusively on whether or not Mr. Peel elects to testify in his own defense."

He said if Peel decides not to testify, there will be no need for them to even call Hoops and they are still not sure if Peel will.

A flurry of sealed documents, motions and responses have been filed in the case since Tuesday.

Stiehl signed a sealed order regarding an offer of proof entered by Peel.

These deadlines have been set March 9:

  • Responses to motions in limine due
  • Proposed case specific voir dire due
  • Proposed jury instructions from both sides, after they have been submitted to each side
  • Proposed exhibit list due

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