ASHLAND A Sandy Hook man at the center of a federal child porn charges as well as state child and sexual abuse indictments is asking a federal judge to toss out a search warrant that resulted in seizing his computers and electronic devices.
Ronald Stinespring's case has been in the system since March 1, 2019, when a young girl staying at his property for two years ran off and alerted a neighbor for help, according to a search warrant affidavit.
The girl told state police she was held at the property for two years, where Stinespring would tie her up with paracord and shock the tops of feet with a stun gun fashioned from a flashlight, according to the warrant.
The warrant also detailed Stinespring would shock her arm pits and strike her in the back of the legs with a wooden board, court records show.
Acting on that information, a Kentucky state trooper requested a search the same day in order to find “any and all property that can and could be used in committing the offense of criminal abuse to cause harm or injury to another person or torture.”
From that search, state police seized 11 long guns, seven long gun receivers, three pistols and two flashlight stun guns, the search warrant shows.
The following day, the responding trooper requested another search warrant in order to shoot “a video recording of the vile living conditions at the above residence, to document child abuse and neglect.”
The trooper went on to request the seizing of any items used to commit torture “not limited to paracord or any binding material,” as well as electronic devices such as computers, cell phones, tablets and WiFi connected devices “to prove continual residence at the above residence,” the warrant states.
The request for the second warrant — nearly identical to the first warrant — stated police were unable to document the living conditions on the first search due to “limited daylight hours and no lighting in the residence,” the affidavit states.
The trooper went on to state “it was discovered after leaving the residence while conducting interviews that there was a computer and a cell phone at the residence that may continue evidence of child abuse and continual residence of the property.”
From that search, police seized two cell phones, two computers, one tablet, 25 internal hard drives, one mother board, two SIM cards, an ultrasound doppler, pregnancy tests and a birth control pills.
On Tuesday, attorney Michael J. Curtis, who is representing Stinespring in the federal case, filed a motion to suppress the second warrant — if granted, it would effectively kill the child porn case.
Curtis argued that the search warrant did not provide sufficient probable cause to seize the electronic items and was effectively a copy-and-paste job of the originally search warrant.
“There is nothing the search warrant affidavit stating that Trooper Johnson was not told by anyone of any facts that would support probable cause to believe that the electronic devices, i.e., the computers etc. contained images of child pornography or images of cooking recipes. It is so noted that the second affidavit is a cut-and-paste copy of the first affidavit save a single sentence quoted … There is nothing in the affidavit that gives rise to a factual basis that electronic devices may contain evidence of child pornography or for that matter any evidence of a crime whatsoever,” Curtis wrote.
And it isn't just federal court, either — the second search warrant has come under fire in Elliott County Circuit Court as well, according to court records.
In that case, where Stinespring is being prosecuted alongside his wife, Ty — a former elementary school teacher in Cadiz, Ohio — attorney Jason Hart has argued the same issue in November 2020, stating that the trooper failed to establish probable cause on the second search.
The United States has not yet filed a reply to the motion in the federal case, records show.
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