Commonwealth seeks testimony from Houck relative

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The grandmother of the suspect in Crystal Rogers’ disappearance is resisting prosecutors’ attempts to call her before a Nelson County grand jury to question her about a car that could be tied to the case.

 Anna Whitesides, grandmother of Brooks Houck, has invoked her Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination in resisting a grand jury subpoena to testify as to what she has already allegedly told police officers investigating the disappearance of her grandson’s girlfriend.

Prosecutors want Whitesides to testify about the details surrounding her white Buick, which prosecutors believe could have been used to cover up Rogers’ murder.

The Buick came to law enforcement’s attention after a private investigator hired by Rogers’ family learned from witnesses that on July 3, 2015, the night of Rogers’ disappearance, they had spotted a white Buick parked in “a peculiar location near a farm owned by Houck’s mother,” according to an order signed by Nelson Circuit Court Judge Charles Simms dated Tuesday.

The family later posted information about the white Buick on Facebook, which led police to learn Houck’s grandmother owned such a car.

When officers tried to execute a warrant to seize the car, however, Whitesides told them she had recently sold the 16-year-old car to a dealership in Louisville.

Whitesides provided information to officers that allowed them to locate the car, which is now in their custody and is being searched for forensic evidence at a facility that was not identified.

“From the Court’s vantage, it appears the Commonwealth may very well believe all of the following: (1) that Whitesides’ motor vehicle was used to dispose of a body, (2) that her motor vehicle was subsequently cleaned, and (3) that her motor vehicle was sold in an attempt to prevent the Commonwealth from obtaining any evidence from it,” Simms wrote.

Commonwealth’s Attorney Terry Geoghegan, in documents filed May 25, contends that Whitesides is not a suspect, and he does not intend to ask questions that may incriminate her, but rather is seeking information about who might have had access to the vehicle the night of July 3, 2015.

But Whitesides’ attorney argues that if she were to testify, she could risk being “ensnared by ambiguous circumstances” if prosecutors were to contend that she had any knowledge of the vehicle being involved in the disappearance and disposed of it.

Simms also raised the issue of Whitesides’ potential for self-incrimination in his Tuesday order. In court filings, Whitesides’ attorneys claim police have accused her of “lying.” Simms pointed out in his order that a previous witness who testified before the grand jury, Danny Singleton, has been indicted on 38 counts of perjury because of discrepancies between his testimony and other witnesses.

According to court documents, police questioned Whitesides the week of May 9, and was served with a subpoena May 15 to testify May 18. Whitesides hired the Bardstown firm Fulton Hubbard & Hubbard, which advised her to assert her Fifth Amendment privilege not to testify and drafted a motion to overturn the subpoena, which was hand-delivered to prosecutors May 18. That same day, Simms signed an order that prosecutors would have seven days to file a response to the motion, and that Whitesides would appear before the court on June 1. On May 31, the judge ordered that Whitesides would not be required to appear before a grand jury June 1, and that day would be used to assign a hearing date in response to her subpoena. That date has been scheduled for June 15.