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Evidence uncovered on iPhone in Long murder case

Texts have been recovered from the phone of the woman accused of attempted first-degree murder and reckless burning in 2015. Using computer software purchased by the state, messages sent and received by Dawn Long, 40, were recently uncovered from...

Dawn Elizabeth Long
Dawn Elizabeth Long

Texts have been recovered from the phone of the woman accused of attempted first-degree murder and reckless burning in 2015.

Using computer software purchased by the state, messages sent and received by Dawn Long, 40, were recently uncovered from Long's iPhone.

Dan Meinke of Forensic Computer Resources, who took Long's phone to Rapid City so the software could be used on it, provided printouts of the text messages, the first of which was received at 3:18 a.m. on Oct. 6, 2015, the day Long allegedly attempted to murder her husband, Todd Long, and the last of which was sent at 12:10 p.m. on Oct. 8, 2015.

These messages were previously thought to have been unsalvageable after Special Agent Toby Russell of the Department of Criminal Investigation permanently disabled the phone by entering an incorrect passcode in July 2016.

At a motions hearing at the Davison County Public Safety Center on Monday morning, Katie Mallery of the State's Attorney's Office said that Russell's full report on the findings from the phone is almost complete and is expected to be provided within the next week or two.

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Judge Chris Giles said the time it has taken for this new material to become available has contributed to the delay in the case.

Long's next status hearing is set for Aug. 24. Giles said he hopes that trial dates, which will likely not be until "well into 2019," can be determined at that time.

"I'm optimistic that we're not going to have any new evidence or material come up before then," Giles said.

Giles also granted all five motions filed by the state in Long's case. These included determinations that either side must notify the other if it decides to present third-party perpetrator evidence (evidence that suggests someone else is guilty) or if it plans to use a character witness. If either of these comes up, its validity will be determined in a hearing outside of the jury trial.

The state was also granted its motion to disclose jury questionnaires, including potential jurors' criminal histories. The defense requested to be provided with the questionnaires, as well, which was granted, although the request to give Long permission to review them on her own time outside of her attorneys' office was denied with the reasoning that the confidential information in the criminal histories could potentially fall into someone else's hands.

The fourth motion by the state that was granted Monday was a reciprocal discovery motion, which requires each side to provide the other with any new evidence or expert reports it acquires, as well as a list of witnesses who will be called at the jury trial.

In response to this, one of Long's attorneys, E. Steeves Smith, said that the defense may decide to call the doctor who did Long's psychiatric evaluation and potentially another psychiatric expert as witnesses. Giles said that their testimony would likely be irrelevant to Long's defense unless Long were to plead guilty but mentally ill.

"That's somewhat of a different matter from the motion today," Giles said.

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Lastly, the state was granted a motion to file additional motions, which Mallery said the prosecution planned to wait until Russell's report was finalized. The defense did not have any motions addressed at Monday's hearing.

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