The attorney for former Sioux Falls fire chief Jim Sideras says a former co-worker hacked into his client’s computers.
Those were just some of the startling allegations brought up in court on Monday ahead of Sideras’ child pornography trial.
It’s been over a year since authorities arrested Sideras on 10 counts of possessing child pornography.
On Monday, the state asked the court to bar third-party perpetrator evidence that could show someone other than Sideras gained access to his personal computer.
Detectives with the Sioux Falls Internet Crimes Against Children unit testified that they found numerous images, messages and links related to child pornography on Sideras’ laptop and home computer after they raided his home back in May of 2017
But Sideras’ attorney, Leo Flynn, argued former firefighter Pat Warren hacked into Sideras’ computer and email because he had a grudge against Sideras for being selected as the next fire chief and he wasn’t.
Back in 2014, Warren was charged with accessing Sideras’ email and pleaded guilty in that case. He received three years of supervised probation and 100 hours of community service.
But experts in computer forensics testified Warren couldn’t have put any images on Sideras’ computer and laptop unless he was in Sideras’ house and physically in control of them.
Plus, they said some of the disturbing images found on Sideras’ computers were from as early as 2010 and 2012, long before the Warren case.
In court, Sideras’ attorney said he has expert witnesses who will refute that testimony.
After leaving the hearing, I asked Flynn why he didn’t have his witnesses here to testify at the hearing like the state did.
Don Jorgensen: Are you going to wait for trial?
Flynn: I got to wait for trial. I got one that’s 3,000 miles that way and 2,000 miles that way; I mean can’t get them in here for this.
Flynn says they’ll disprove Monday’s testimony.
Flynn: Absolutely them or my fact witnesses, not just the experts, but fact witnesses. We still have a very strong case this was just a little preliminary thing here today.
Jorgensen: Almost like a trial.
Flynn: Like an ambush.
The judge is giving Sideras’ attorney until Friday to get sworn affidavits from his expert witnesses to see if she’ll allow third-party perpetrator evidence at the upcoming trial.
Judge Robin Houwman says the evidence has to show proximity to this case, a motive and opportunity.