Shortage of forensic examiners delays hearing for Robert Kaufman

There are only two forensic examiners in North Dakota who are able to examine cell phones for meta data in cases like the child pornography possession charge facing Robert Kaufman, 32, of Minot, the prosecution and the defense both told Judge Gary Lee on Wednesday.

Lee said he cannot understand why it takes so many months for an investigation to be completed regarding investigation of a cell phone.

Kaufman’s defense lawyer, Kyle Craig, told the judge that he is seeking information about when and where a photo in question was taken and how it was transmitted.

According to testimony given at a preliminary hearing in November, a woman told police that Kaufman had naked pictures of her young daughter on his cell phone. The woman used her tablet to take pictures of the incriminating image on Kaufman’s cell phone, and then showed the photos on her tablet to the police at the police station. Police obtained a search warrant for Kaufman’s cell phone. The photos showed the hand of an adult pulling up a shirt and exposing the small left breast of a pre-pubescent girl. Other photos on the phone showed the private parts of a pre-pubescent boy.

Craig told the judge in November that the woman’s children denied that Kaufman ever took pictures of them when they were interviewed at the Northern Plains Children’s Advocacy Center. Craig also told the judge that there has been animosity between the woman and Kaufman, who is a member of her extended family, and he plans to raise that as part of Kaufman’s defense. Kaufman has pleaded not guilty to the Class C felony charge.

Lee agreed to delay a scheduled hearing in the case to allow more time for the forensic analysis of the phone to be completed.

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