Wilson’s Bail Revoked, Held Without Bond

Wilson’s Bail Revoked, Held Without Bond
Kat Khan
BARTOW, Fla. — After alleged obscene picture peddler Chris Wilson was accused of violating his bail agreement last week, Judge J. Dale Durrance has revoked Wilson’s bail and remanded him to Polk County Jail.

Wilson, who is currently being held in protective custody, operates an amateur-wife-and-girlfriend website, NowThatsFuckedUp.com. Prosecutors contended that the continued use of the site violated the conditions of Wilson's release and filed a motion to revoke his $151,000 bail, state attorney’s office spokesman Chip Thullbery said.

Wilson, 28, was arrested in October and is facing 301 obscenity charges for photos police allegedly found on his site, though he removed all explicit material from the site earlier this month. A pretrial conference is set for Feb. 7 at which time a trial date could be set.

“This decision was in violation of Florida law,” defense attorney Lawrence Walters said. “The court must, after determining that the bond was breached, conduct an additional inquiry whether any other conditions of release could be imposed that would protect the community from physical danger. This must be established by proof beyond a reasonable doubt, in order for the court to order pretrial detention, without bond.”

He added that the Florida Constitution guarantees a right to pretrial release and that denying bail is generally reserved only for defendants facing capital or life offenses, or those proved to be physically dangerous.

The court rejected attempts by defense counsel to re-open the hearing to address these issues, to discuss the issue of physical danger or to seek a stay of proceedings. Walters said defense counsel is currently evaluating various options for reversing, modifying or enjoining the pretrial detention decision.

Previous issues waiting to be addressed include deciding whether Polk County standards will apply to the case and whether Florida’s obscenity law is unconstitutional under the First and Fourteenth amendments. Hearings on those matters are set for March 2006. Wilson has already moved from Polk County to Orange County, Calif.

Walters said defense counsel attempted to call an expert witness, Dr. Randy Fisher, to the stand to testify on behalf of Wilson about the images found by police and other similar material. Florida law allows defendants in bond revocation proceedings to call witnesses in their defense, however, the court sustained the state’s objection to Fisher’s testimony.

Additionally, Walters said defense counsel requested Durrance disqualify himself from hearing the case because “we discovered that he has a serious eyesight infirmity, which will require surgery in the near future.”

“We argued that the judge would be physically incapable of focusing on the nuances required in reviewing images or video clips alleged to be obscene, and in applying [a] complex test to those images,” Walters said.

However, the court denied the motion to disqualify, without comment, as well as denied defense counsel’s request for a stay of proceedings, he said.