A Faribault County judge says “rumor evidence” cannot be used in the jury trial of a Blue Earth woman charged with perjury.
“All social media and texts are suppressed, including newspaper accounts,” says defense attorney Gary Gittus. “He reserved any ruling on whether the proper foundation can be laid for her daughter’s notes and texts.”
Gittus is representing 37-year-old Allison Ann Mastin, who is accused of lying under oath during a July 2018 hearing held for a teen convicted of assaulting a former Blue Earth Area football teammate in October 2017.
During a pre-trial hearing held Monday, Judge Troy Timmerman ruled in favor of county prosecutor LaMar Piper’s motion to not allow news reports, social media posts and Tripleanews.com stories during the two-day jury trial scheduled to start Jan. 23.
Gittus says news reports and social media posts are “highly problematic and highly prejudicial,” and have no relevance in front of a jury.
“We are going to try our case with actual witnesses with knowledge, not through the news media,” says Gittus. “We are not disputing the horrific nature of the incident.”
Timmerman did not decide whether a text from Mastin’s daughter to the assault victim could be entered as evidence in the trial.
In the Nov. 19, 2017, text, Piper says that Mastin’s daughter asks, “I want to know how big a part Wyatt (Tungland) was in this. He is being blamed for everything.”
Piper says that Mastin was aware of the text before she was called as a witness for the contested omnibus hearing.
Gittus disputes Piper’s claim and says his client went immediately to police and gave them the texts.
Under oath. Mastin and her daughter — who once dated Tungland — said he was at their house during the time of the assault in the early morning hours of Oct. 19, 2017.
According to court documents, Tungland in a nine-page statement to law enforcement on Nov. 17, 2017, admitted being present during the assault and gave specific details of what he observed.
Because the judge is scheduled to hear another case on Jan. 24, Timmerman and the attorneys will hold a telephone conference on Jan. 17 to decide if back-up dates are needed for the trial.
Mastin has pleaded not guilty to perjury and aiding an offender. The perjury charge carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison and a $10,000 fine, while aiding an offender has a maximum sentence of three years in prison and a $5,000 fine.