The animal cruelty trial of Beth Lynne Hoskins took a dramatic twist Monday when her attorney asked the judge to declare a mistrial after the prosecutor turned over 1,200 photographs and 50 documents that the defense said were completely new in the case.
"I'm completely ambushed in here," defense attorney Thomas J. Eoannou told Aurora Town Justice Douglas W. Marky on the sixth day of the nonjury criminal trial of Hoskins on 74 misdemeanor animal cruelty counts. "We should have this case dismissed in the interest of justice."
Eoannou referred to the additional documents that he said the prosecution forwarded to him Thursday, plus a two-page hay analysis it presented Monday in court.
"I don't know if it helps me or hurts me," he said outside of court, noting the unfairness of receiving new information in the middle of a trial and not having time for his legal team to review it.
If a mistrial is granted, the case could not be tried again, Eoannou said. Marky ended up saying Eoannou could file his mistrial motion in writing within three weeks, but the trial will continue in the interim.
In court, Eoannou told the judge it has cost "$400,000 to fight this thing line by line."
"There's no way that Beth should be put through the burden to send all these new documents out to witnesses. That's patently unfair," he said. "This has not been a fair trial. This started out as a lie. Don't let it end as a curveball to me. It's an ambush."
The prosecution contended that the delay in forwarding the material was tied to how the SPCA Serving Erie County and American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals kept their records. Some of the new material just forwarded to the defense contains some duplicate documents that the defense already has, prosecutor Matt Albert said.
Albert argued against a mistrial. "We've turned over anything and everything. Certainly, with 18,500 documents, something may get [overlooked]," he said.
Eoannou told Marky the late turning over of evidence puts him at a disadvantage in defending his client and not giving him adequate opportunity to cross-examine prosecution witness Joshua Burkhardt, the farrier who treated all 73 of Hoskins' Morgan horses that were seized by the SPCA on March 18, 2010.
The defense lawyer said that if a mistrial is not declared, then the judge should consider striking the recent testimony of Burkhardt, as well as the testimony of two SPCA employees.
Marky said it was appropriate for Eoannou to ask about the new material. "With the new materials, you have every right to do what you did today and jump up and down and say, 'Wait a minute,' " Marky said.
Prosecutor Michael Drmacich said some of the photos turned over last week are the same as what the defense already has. "We found additional photographs from the ASPCA. We do not intend to use them in trial. Whether the defense wants to, is up to [Eoannou]," he said. "We had no obligation to turn over all the documents before opening statements. This was a courtesy."
The trial continues at 1:15 p.m. Thursday with the cross-examination of SPCA employee Amy Jaworski, who helped execute the search warrant at Hoskins' farm on the day of the raid and testified Monday about the varying measurements of manure piles in the many of the horse stalls in the blue-tarp barn.