“Sunlight is the best disinfectant” open government advocates often claim. But nothing can disinfect Keith Gardner’s actions. It is not Senator Tim Jennings or Senator Michael Sanchez who are “soft” on child abuse cases. It is Keith Gardner. And by her support of him, Governor Susana Martinez is also soft on child abuse cases.
In today’s Roswell Daily Record, there is an article about a civil rights lawsuit brought by the daughter of Brian Powell, against the Roswell Independent School District and David Lawrence.
Brian Powell is the man who recorded Keith Gardner in the audio that has exploded across New Mexico. Powell released a statement about why he made the recording, “I recorded this conversation because I had reason to believe Mr. Gardner might be motivated to prevent crucial testimony by a witness at an upcoming preliminary hearing. The preliminary hearing involved my daughter as the victim of sexual abuse, and a critical witness had suddenly expressed reluctance to testify.”
According to the Roswell Daily Record article Brian Powell was right to be concerned by Gardner’s actions. “The complaint filed with the U.S. District Court also notes the discrepancies between the testimony of Kelci Gardner, a witness in the criminal case against Lawrence, in Magistrate Court and her testimony in District Court. Keith Gardner, father of Kelci, “expressed concerns about his daughter’s testimony at the preliminary hearing.”
What could have caused her change in testimony? We do know that Brian Powell declined job offers from Keith Gardner to come work for Martinez, and that those job offers were contingent upon Powell moving his family out of Roswell.
Powell declined those offers after the preliminary hearing, but before the trial.
According to the article, “Kelci had reported seeing texts from Lawrence to the student in the Magistrate hearing, but denied seeing them and denied discussing them during a Feb. 4 interview with the police.”
The texts in question came from the defendant Lawrence and were sent to lure Powell’s daughter to Lawrence’s house. Clearly suddenly claiming she didn’t see them would create the impression with the jury that Powell’s daughter was lying about them.
That reversal of testimony alone could create reasonable doubt.
The damage was done, but “Debra Hutchins, assistant district attorney, read excerpts of Kelci’s testimony from the previous court hearing that contradicted her statements in District Court, and the witness said she did not remember having said them.”
Deb Hutchins was mentioned in the audiotape by Gardner, he mentions that after he had a discussion with Hutchins about his daughter’s anticipated testimony, that Hutchins left allowing Gardner to hold an in depth conversation with Hutchins’ boss, Janetta Hicks, about how difficult the case against Lawrence was to prosecute.
Gardner recounted to Powell the discussion he had with Hicks. Hicks is very close to Gardner’s boss as Hicks served with Martinez in the DA’s office in Las Cruces. Hicks had a sweet deal while working for Martinez, she set up a middleman procurement company, allowing her to buy items at wholesale and sell them to Martinez’s office at retail.
According to the Roswell Daily Record article, to date, the only person interviewed by the New Mexico Public Education Department who is determining if David Lawrence should keep his teaching license is… Kelci Gardner. Not the victim, Powell’s daughter, and not the police officer who investigated the criminal case.
You’d think they would have interviewed the victim first.
Is there any coincidence to the fact that Keith Gardner’s wife works for PED? Gardner and others ensured that his wife, Stephanie Gardner, was the only person “qualified” for the job at PED by rigging the job requirements.
Gardner seems to have exerted a lot of control over a case that he should have had nothing to do with either before trial or during the administrative license investigation that followed the trial.
Looks like governor’s chief of staff is really the one who is soft on child abuse.