Lawyer on trial for planting drugs in school volunteer's car


Kent Easter took notes as the prosecutor told jurors how the 40-year-old allegedly planted drugs in the car of Kelli Peters, a PTA volunteer at Easter's son's elementary school in Irvine in February 2011.

"Kent Easter calls Irvine Police and says there's a woman driving erratically, she may have drugs," said prosecutor Christopher Duff in court Wednesday.

Jurors listened to audiotape: Easter, using a fake name, talks with police from a hotel lobby phone near his law office.

On tape the operator says: "You said that you saw her place something behind her seat?" Easter says: "Yeah, it looked like she had some like pills or something. I think her name is Kelli."

Prosecutors say police questioned Kelli Peters at the school. On the stand she started to cry, recalling the embarrassment as officers removed marijuana, a pipe, and bags of Percocet and Vicodin from her vehicle. When officers asked who could have done this, she said "Jill Easter," who is the now-estranged wife of Kent Easter.

Prosecutors allege the Easters' problem with Peters began a year before, when they believed the volunteer didn't properly supervise their son following an after-school activity.

"For several months these two go after this lady trying to get her fired, suing her, filing a restraining order against her," said Duff.

"While Kent is a very good human being, he didn't have backbone when it came to his wife," said defense attorney Thomas Bienert. "She wore the pants in the family."

The defense alleges Jill Easter planted the drugs, not Kent. Last month, she pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 120 days in jail.

But prosecutors allege cellphone records show Kent was near the victim's home early that morning to plant the drugs.

"Mr. Easter just wasn't involved," said Bienert. "Jill Easter had my client Kent's phone at 2:27 in the morning while he was upstairs in bed feeling sick."

The defense says that's the same day Jill was texting a lover named Glen.

"'Hold on stud I'll be there to rescue you soon,'" said Bienert.

The defense called Kent a trusting husband, unaware of the affair, unaware that Jill planted drugs in the victim's vehicle.

Bienert claims Kent reluctantly made the call to police following his wife's orders.

Kent and Jill are both attorneys. She never practiced. He lost his job with a law firm over this incident. He could face up to three years in jail if convicted.

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