After nearly a year of investigation, filing of charges and postponements in court, the criminal trial against former Independence Community College Head Football Coach Jason Brown officially got underway on Tuesday, January 28 at the Independence Courthouse. Well, sort of…one of the main sources of evidence, a string of emails that are alleged to be sent by California attorney Richard Barnwell, were continually objected to by Brown's attorney Mr. Duncan due to the fact that Barnwell was not present and the case was eventually decided to merit bifurcation. The new court date to continue was scheduled for Friday, April 24 at 9:00 a.m.

Mr. Duncan's reasons for objection due to hearsay stemmed from the fact that Barnwell was not on hand in the court room and was therefore unable to refute or confirm any information that was submitted which had any real connection to the actual body of the emails. Montgomery County Attorney Larry Markle countered that they had reached out to Barnwell and were in the process of issuing a subpoena to guarantee his presence in court. Markle explained that the process could take 45-60 days to complete, therefore the remainder of the case was pushed back until April.

The court was able to get the testimony of a pair of witnesses on file. First up was Montgomery County Sherrif's Office Detective Chad Dunham, who was initially called on to investigate a set of cease and desist emails that were alleged to come from Barnwell's office on behalf of Mr. Brown. These emails were received by at least three separate entities: Andy Taylor at the Montgomery County Chronicle; Josh Umholtz at the Independence Daily Reporter; and Steve McBride, a political cartoonist and occasional contributing writer for IDR. All three were on hand on Tuesday, but were sequestered out of the court room as the talk turned to the emails in question.

Markle and the State were able to submit 18 items as evidence, the majority of which were the alleged emails. Also amongst the items entered were a couple of warrants issued from Dunham and the MGSO to Yahoo and Cable One, in an effort to determine the origins of said emails. 

Next up on the stand was Independence Community College IT Director Eric Montgomery, who was called upon to help verify the origin of the emails and whether or not they could have been sent from any other device other than ones that were registered or associated with Brown. Montgomery testified that there was no way to log on to the specific IP address assigned to the college, but under cross examination also admitted that it is possible some other party may have logged on to Brown's computer or email using his login and password.

Dunham was then brought back to the stand for follow-up questioning, however that was when the hearsay objections reached a point in which it was determined further questioning would not produce any results without Barnwell being present.

Judge Gossard then conferred with the respective attorneys and scheduled the continuation of the trial for Friday, April 24 in Independence. Markle was confident that they would be able to sort out the Barnwell situation and that the rest of the witness testimony would be able to proceed at that time.