FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- The family of a Valley man serving life in prison for rape now faces charges of their own. Wednesday, a judge ruled documents from an internal CHP investigation can be used in the trial.
Prosecutors say Spencer Scarber's family helped him escape before he was convicted last year. His father, Kyle, a former CHP assistant chief, faced an internal CHP investigation over the escape, and defense attorneys tried to keep the findings private.
Interviews with relatives and information collected during a disciplinary hearing by the California Highway Patrol did not violate rules of court when details contained in these reports were brought up by prosecutors Tuesday.
Superior Court Judge W. Kent Hamlin explained, "If, in fact, the CHP investigated Mr. Scarber, not based on some citizen complaint, but based on an inquiry initiated by the agency based on information it obtained elsewhere, then it is not a citizen complaint against personnel and is not protected under 832.5."
Defense attorneys argued internal affairs reports should be kept confidential and are protected under the peace officer bill of rights. But the judge determined the records do not meet the penal code requirements, because they are not related to Kyle Scarber's job performance.
Hamlin said, "This investigation has nothing to do with this officers performance of his duties, he wasn't acting as a CHP officer, and so it is not properly characterized as a personnel record."
Kyle Scarber, his wife, Gail and their daughter Crystal Reynoso are on trial for several crimes including conspiracy, filing false police reports and being an accessory after a crime. They are accused of railroading the investigation and helping Spencer Scarber flee to Mexico. In a surprise move Wednesday, the hearing was continued, after attorney Roger Nuttall asked to review the entire internal affairs file, in case it contains evidence that may help the Scarber family.
Nuttall explained, "We've been led to believe that within that file, that we don't have, that there is material favorable to my client."
The complete IA investigation will be provided to the judge and then attorneys to review and follow up on, to potentially use when the hearing resumes.
The preliminary hearing will continue in October. If the family is convicted, they could each face up to five years in prison.
Fresno family of convicted rapist face charges of their own
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