Inmate petition to secure property deemed ‘moot’
A Youngsville man was sentenced back in 2015 to at least 13 years in state prison on three dockets all related to sexual offenses against minor females.
Josh L. Anderson, 42, filed a petition on his own last week seeking the return of property that was seized back when he was arrested in 2014.
But President Judge Maureen Skerda denied that effort as moot.
That’s because those items — including electronics and recorded interviews — don’t exist anymore as they were destroyed per City of Warren police guidelines.
Anderson was convicted on three dockets, all incidents that occurred between May and July 2014 including statutory sexual assault, interference with the custody of children, corruption of minors and luring a child into a motor vehicle.
Some of the charges stem from an incident in spring 2014 when Anderson added a 16-year-old girl on Facebook. The pair corresponded and, on May 2, Anderson picked her up and took her to the Edgewood Motel in Youngsville.
She said that Anderson told the girl that her mother would be there but was alone with her and “multiple incidents of intercourse (occurred) over the next couple days.”
Testimony at sentencing detailed a criminal history dating back to 10-years-old as well as multiple prior sexual offenses. The first sexual offense occurred in 2000 against a 16-year-old female and the second offense resulted in his designation as a sexually violent predator.
The total sentence on all the charges landed at 156 months to 324 months, or 13 to 27 years.
He filed a petition for post-conviction relief several years ago that is still unresolved. Discussion in court on Friday indicated that a total of eight attorneys had been involved in Anderson’s cases.
At the outset of the hearing, Skerda asked if any of the property identified by Anderson remains.
“No,” District Attorney Rob Greene said, noting that all evidence in the case was destroyed.
But that petition for post-conviction relief was still floating out there when those items were destroyed.
“It has been a tumultuous five years” in seeking resolution to the requested relief, Anderson’s counsel, Douglas Sullivan, told the court.
He called Anderson’s mother to the stand, who testified that she repeatedly and unsuccessfully asked law enforcement for the items to be returned and said none of the items requested were used at her son’s trial.
Anderson testified and said that there has been “problem after problem” with his attorneys so he filed the return of property motion on his own. He said he was never notified by city police about the status of the property.
Last to testify was City of Warren Police Officer Kyle Grey, who said he has served as the property officer for the last six or seven months and was not affiliated directly with Anderson’s case or the destruction of his property.
He said that city police followed their policy and the items were “destroyed beyond recognition” in 2019 or 2020.
Grey testified that city police changed their policy the day before this hearing to require both a court order and letter from the DA before property could be destroyed.
Sullivan asked whether it would be fair to say that move was to avoid situations like this.
“Fair,” Grey said.
Greene said that “unfortunately, impossibility dictates” that the property can’t be returned and that the motion should be denied.
“Hopefully, (it) will not happen in the future,” he said, as the property in this instance “should not have been destroyed.”
Sullivan noted that the law doesn’t offer much guidance in this situation but said resolving this motion is a step toward figuring out what post-conviction relief Anderson is entitled to.
“The property has to exist,” Skerda said, calling that a “very simple legal concept.”
She said city police followed their rules of procedure and, accordingly, she would deny the motion as “moot.”