by Clay Harrison, Assistant District Attorney
Daniel Arnold, 33, of Mount Vernon, was tried by a Franklin County jury on December 12 and 13 for three counts of Tampering with Physical Evidence. In November of 2015, CPS investigators became aware of allegations that the Defendant may have exposed his children to methamphetamine. The Defendant’s sons were one year old and three years old at the time. A CPS investigator asked the Defendant for a sample of his hair to test for the presence of drugs. The Defendant refused to consent to the hair test, and CPS decided that they lacked sufficient evidence to obtain a court order. Therefore, the CPS case was closed. Within weeks, the Defendant then shaved himself bald and also shaved the one year old and the three year old.
Two weeks later, a new CPS investigation began based on additional allegations that the mother of the children may have exposed them to methamphetamine. Because the children were living with the Defendant at the time of the new investigation, CPS workers asked the Defendant for consent to test the hair of the children. When the Defendant refused, CPS succeeded in obtaining a court order from District Judge Will Biard. However, within a week of being ordered to provide the hair samples by the Judge, the Defendant shaved his entire body from head to toe. He also cut the hair of both children. It was based on these acts that the Defendant was indicted for three felony counts of Tampering With Physical Evidence. There were three charges because he tampered with the hair of three people: the one year old, the three year old, and himself.
The Defendant was found guilty by the jury in 35 minutes. He will be sentenced by Judge Eddie Northcutt on January 6 in Franklin County. The Defendant has a prior conviction for possession of methamphetamine and is currently on probation for assaulting the mother of the children. His range of punishment is 2 to 10 years in prison. He is also eligible for probation.
Our hope is that this case sets a precedent in CPS cases. While tampering with evidence is unfortunately a common practice in these cases, jury verdicts like this send a message that destroying evidence will not be tolerated in our community.