2009

Evidence against a former Rio Rancho elementary school teacher indicted on child exploitation charges will not be used during trial because of a problem with the search warrant.

 

David P. Harper, 54, was indicted in January by a Sandoval County grand jury on 10 counts of sexual exploitation of children for allegedly possessing child pornography, according to the indictment and a Rio Rancho police report.
Harper filed a motion to suppress the evidence through his attorney, Ryan J. Villa, and 13th Judicial District Chief Judge Louis P. McDonald granted the motion Wednesday.
The trial will be at a later date.
Harper, who was a teacher at Ernest Stapleton Elementary School, was placed on administrative leave in July 2008 and fired October 2008, according to Rio Rancho Public Schools. He had properties in Rio Rancho and in New Jersey.
McDonald granted the motion because the Rio Rancho search warrant did not include language specifying how evidence collected in New Jersey was reason enough to search Harper's Rio Rancho home, District Attorney Lemuel Martinez said.
"The warrant did not say that it was customary or routine for people to have larger amounts of information on their home computer than on their laptops," Martinez said. "There was not enough of a nexis between the laptop (seized in New Jersey) and the search of (Harper's) home computer in Rio Rancho."
Rio Rancho police were contacted in July 2008 by a detective with the prosecutor's office in Cape May County, N.J., regarding a child pornography investigation involving Harper, according to the police report. Harper lived in Rio Rancho at the time.
Several people complained about Harper allegedly photographing children at a New Jersey beach. The Stone Harbor Police Department confiscated Harper's camera and charged him with harassment, according to the report.
Stone Harbor police later obtained a search warrant for Harper's New Jersey home and confiscated his laptop computer and components of his camera. He was arrested and charged with 43 counts of child pornography.
In a statement, Harper said he had a computer at his Rio Rancho home and said he was attracted to one of his female students at Ernest Stapleton.
Rio Rancho police obtained a warrant and searched his Rio Rancho home July 16, 2008. A laptop computer, a computer tower, hard drives and other items were confiscated.
Rio Rancho police sent 54 digital images from Harper's hard drive to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, according to the police report. Ten children were positively identified.
The images appeared to be of adolescent children.

- Rozanna M. Martinez Journal Staff Writer

http://www.abqjournal.com/riorancho/271217473858west08-27-09.htm#ixzz3LuflXacA