Judge Anita Sukola will consider a motion Wednesday accusing 22-year-old Chad Ryan DeSoto of witness tampering and obstruction of justice. Chief Prosecutor Phillip Tydingco said he has recordings of phone conversations between DeSoto and his girlfriend, Reanne Acasio, and his cousin and babysitter, Michele Fatovic. Acasio and Fatovic testified in DeSoto's defense. DeSoto has pleaded not guilty by reason of mental illness to killing the tourists and hurting 11 others by running his car onto a crowded sidewalk in a tourist area, then crashing into a store and getting out and stabbing bystanders. Tydingco says DeSoto contacted his girlfriend in the evening on the same day she testified, through a phone system in the jail where he's being held. The witnesses face the possibility of contempt charges, a crime punishable with up to five days in jail. Sukola admonished all witnesses, including Acasio and Fatovic, not to talk to anyone about the case. Witness tampering and obstruction of justice are both misdemeanors, both punishable by up to one year in prison. Also Monday, Sukola replaced one of the jurors with an alternate for not showing up to court. Sukola said she is considering admonishing the juror or holding the juror in contempt. DeSoto's lawyers are expected to wrap up their defense arguments this week. Sukola said jurors will likely get instructions next week, followed by lawyers delivering closing statements.
His conviction stems from his involvement in a large drug trafficking ring allegedly operated by Maurice Mo McCray in central Maine . Court records show that between May 2009 and May 2012, Robinson supplied oxycodone to McCray for distribution by a network of conspirators. The conspiracy was dismantled after a three-month investigation by state and federal drug enforcement agencies that revealed the details of McCrays drug distribution operation and its membership, police reported. Sixteen people were indicted in 2012 in connection with the alleged drug ring. At least two other co-conspirators have been sentenced. McCray has pleaded guilty to distribution of a mixture or substance containing oxycodone, and aiding and abetting the same. He is expected to be sentenced later this year and faces up to 30 years in prison and a fine of up to $2 million due to a prior felony drug conviction.