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After Hours Video, Rick Krial Appeal Porn Verdicts- Say Improper Statements, Evidence Introduced

STAUNTON, Virginia — Defense attorneys for After Hours Video owner Rick Krial [pictured] and his company filed motions late Tuesday afternoon to have the two guilty verdicts in the city’s obscenity case set aside, citing numerous “improper statements” made during the four-day trial that were aimed at inflaming the “passions and prejudices of jurors.”

In the 29-page filing, attorneys also argued that improper evidence was introduced during the August trial, and that the verdicts were not supported by sufficient evidence.

A jury found Krial, 40, and his company guilty on two counts of misdemeanor obscenity. The case against Krial was set in motion in October 2007 when undercover agents from the Staunton and Waynesboro police departments, along with plainclothes officers from Virginia State Police, posed as customers and purchased sexually explicit DVDs from the Springhill Road store. A special grand jury convened and indicted Krial and his company on 16 felonies and eight misdemeanors.

An employee at the store also was slapped with obscenity charges, but the jury rejected those arguments and found the man not guilty.

In Tuesday’s filing, attorneys for Krial said Staunton prosecutor Raymond C. Robertson gave jurors a “call to action” with statements made during opening and closing arguments. During Robertson’s opening remarks to the jury, he called the store “a serious community problem,” causing a flurry of objections from Krial’s defense team, led by Paul Cambria Jr. of Buffalo, N.Y. Three minutes into the trial, a motion for a mistrial was denied by Circuit Judge Thomas H. Wood.

Tuesday’s court filing also said Robertson acted improperly during closing arguments when he said, ” … you know why I can’t run naked down Beverley Street or why I can’t have incest? Because communities and states and the nation have a right to make laws that protect the decency and the morality of their people.” Another comment by Robertson that was cited in the motion read, “We are not Las Vegas. We are not New York City. We are not even Baltimore.”

The motion states, “The Commonwealth’s attorney repeatedly implored the jury to prevent Staunton from becoming like other places. In doing so, he relied upon numerous facts that were not in evidence, such as the lack of immorality in Staunton and the causal connection between observing sexual material and behavior.”

The defense team also took issue with the testimony of Mary Anne Layden, an expert witness in human sexual psychopathology and director of education at the Center for Cognitive Therapy at the University of Pennsylvania. Layden testified about an actress in one of the DVDs in question, and said the woman in question was sexually immature. This again brought a number of objections and a call by the defense team for a mistrial, because Wood had sent a letter prior to the trial warning all of the attorneys in the case not to bring up the issue of an actor’s age. The federal government is in charge of tracking the ages of all the actors in adult films.

The defense team’s call for a mistrial was denied.

The motion also stated a chain of custody was never established by police or Robertson after the purchase of the DVDs.

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