Boonsboro man charged with sexually abusing girl asks for change of venue

Defense says Gerald Wayne Hubbard can't get a fair trial because of pretrial publicity

February 17, 2011|By DON AINES |

A Boonsboro man charged with sexually abusing a child asked a Washington County Circuit Court judge Wednesday to move his case to another county because of pretrial publicity.

"I have never seen any articles ... that were so malicious and so detailed," Gerald Wayne Hubbard testified at the hearing, referring to articles published in the Herald-Mail about the case.

"It's not a very big county, and the Herald-Mail is the only daily paper circulating," Hubbard's attorney John Salvatore told Judge Daniel P. Dwyer. "I would suspect most jurors read the newspaper."

Because of the inflammatory nature of the case and the articles, "it would be very difficult for Mr. Hubbard to get a fair trial in the county," Salvatore said.

"What specificity is in there is taken from the charging documents," which are public record, Assistant State's Attorney Brett Wilson said. "The Herald-Mail newspaper, as do most newspapers, publishes articles about pending felony cases."

Hubbard, 67, of 20726 Park Hall Road, was charged last year with first- and second-degree rape, second-, third- and fourth-degree sex offenses, sexual abuse of a minor, sexual abuse of a minor as a continuing course of conduct and second-degree assault, according to court records.

Also charged in the case is Christy M. Woods, 34, of no fixed address, who allegedly brought the victim to Maryland from another state.

Hubbard and Woods are both scheduled for trial on March 10, court records said. Hubbard was released on bail, and Woods was being held in the Washington County Detention Center, Wilson said.

They were charged by the Washington County Sheriff's Office in July 2010 with abusing a girl at a property on Taylor's Landing Road in 2007 and 2008, according to the statement of charges.

The allegations came to light during a therapy session in another state in which the child alleged a man she knew as "GW" had sexual relations with her, the charging documents said.

The girl, who was 5 years old when the alleged incidents occurred, said she and Woods lived in a camper and that Woods did not intervene when GW molested her, the documents said. Hubbard and Woods met on an Internet chat room in 2006, and she and the child began visiting him, the  documents said.

Dwyer said he would rule on the motion to move the trial by the end of the month, as well as on a motion by Hubbard to suppress what investigators found when they searched the Taylor's Landing Road property on July 9, 2010.

"This is one of the worst applications and search warrants I've ever seen," Salvatore told Dwyer.

The application for the warrant was too vague as to what specifically the sheriff's office investigators were searching for, he said.

"This is a fishing expedition .... Clearly, it doesn't fly," Salvatore said.

Sheriff's Office Detective Casey Barnes testified that the warrant was developed from statements the girl made, and a surveillance of the property was conducted to see if it fit the description the girl gave investigators.

Children's books and toys, a wallet with Woods' identification and a picture of the girl were among the items seized, Barnes said.

The property fit the description given by the girl, who told investigators some of her belongings were there, Wilson said.

 The items seized were connected to the allegations, and the language used in the warrant application is acceptable, he said.

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