GGW Case Falling Apart

Local prosecutors will soon know how much of the case against Joe Francis and Girls Gone Wild they'll still have.

NewsChannel Seven reported exclusively Tuesday Circuit Judge Dedee Costello ruled in favor of a motion by Francis' attorneys to suppress hundreds of pieces of evidence the state was planning to use against Francis.

The 33-year-old and a number of his Girls Gone Wild production team members were arrested on Panama City Beach in April 2003 during Spring Break.

Sheriff's investigators made the busts after several underage girls claimed they were video taped performing sex acts, and running a criminal enterprise under racketeering laws.

But Francis' attorney claimed the search warrants only gave deputies the right to search for specific evidence, not the hundreds of items they ended up confiscating.

Apparently Judge Costello agreed and decided to throw out most of the evidence.

State Attorney Steve Meadows says he and his staff will evaluate how much of their case they have left, and then decide how to proceed.

Meadows inherited this case from former State Attorney Jim Appleman, as did Bay County Sheriff Frank McKeithen. Guy Tunnell was sheriff when Francis and his crew were arrested.