CLEVELAND - The FOX 8 I TEAM has learned of an internal investigation in the Cuyahoga County Clerk of Courts office into the mishandling of evidence from the trial of Christopher Whitaker, recently sent to death row for the murder of 14-year-old Alianna DeFreeze.
At least two employees in the clerk’s office have been placed on leave during the investigation, and the I TEAM has learned others may also be involved.
Whitaker recently received the death sentence for kidnapping Alianna on her way to school, sexually assaulting her, killing her and leaving her body in a vacant building.
After the trial, evidence from the case was sent to the clerk’s office to be put into computer files.
But the I TEAM has learned of an internal investigation into whether some clerk’s office employees went through the evidence improperly. That is, looking at pictures and more when they had no business handling the evidence.
Clerk of Courts Nailah Byrd issued a statement saying, “We will not and do not condone any employee of this office violating the Court’s direction or any Countywide policy. We are extremely disappointed that employees did not safeguard the confidentiality of this very tragic case.”
The I TEAM reached Alianna’s mother and the news left her hurt and disgusted.
The investigation is solely an internal probe. There is no criminal investigation. For instance, there is no indication anyone took any of the evidence or tried to do anything with it.