Friedmann trial continues with expert testimonies

Published: Jul. 18, 2022 at 6:33 AM CDT|Updated: Jul. 20, 2022 at 2:49 PM CDT
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NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WSMV) - The trial of prison reform expert, Alex Friedmann, moves on with testimonies from surveillance video experts on Day 2.

On Tuesday, long-anticipated video of Friedmann and accomplices, all dressed as construction workers, infiltrating the Davidson County Detention Center while it was under construction, was played for the first time.

Prosecutors say the video shows how Friedmann was the mastermind of a scheme to plant weapons, including guns and ammunition, inside the jail walls to help future inmates escape.

“We were two weeks away from having a massive loss of life; there’s no doubt about it in my mind,” said Davidson County Sheriff Daron Hall.

Alex Friedmann faces a single state charge of vandalism of more than $250,000.

The video shows Friedmann, wearing a hard hat and a reflective vest, freely walking throughout the jail, carrying a dark bag and later a construction pail.

Later, Friedmann can be seen entering two different medical holding cells, covering up the cameras inside.

Prosecutors say Friedmann then used tools to plan guns, ammunition, razor blades, and handcuffs keys behind a mirror and a wall.

You can see Friedmann using a drill at one point in the video.

A photo that was shown during the trial also shows Friedmann stealing keys.

On another day, prosecutors say the video shows a second man, identified as Paul Cunningham and referred to as Friedmann’s accomplice, standing in the hall to watch and see if anyone approaches.

A spokesman for the sheriff’s office confirmed to WSMV4 Investigates that Cunningham later died of unknown causes.

Additional video shows a second unidentified man serving as a watchman for Friedmann.

Prosecutors have not said why the two additional men were not charged in the case.

Prosecutors said the video also shows Friedmann entering an area where inmates would visit with guests and stashed more weapons in the wall at that location.

“It is obvious that the defendant planted this evidence in the jail, he tampered with the jail, he vandalized the jail,” said Amy Hunter, assistant district attorney.

Even Friedmann’s attorney, Ben Raybin, agreed.

“There’s no dispute that the facts are not very good for Mr. Friedmann. He’s on video committing numerous acts of vandalism, hiding all of these things in the jail and removing keys,” Raybin said.

But Raybin, and his father, David Raybin, spent the day questioning the sheriff and other sheriff’s employees about whether or not they inflated the costs of the repairs to the vandalism to try and convict him of the charge.

David Raybin repeatedly asked if the sheriff’s office needed to replace all of the locks after Friedmann’s arrest, pointing out that the stolen keys, two of which were later returned, did not open many of the cells.

But Hall made a judgment call at the time to protect the workers at the jail and had all the locks replaced.

The trial continues Wednesday at 10 a.m.

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