Update at 10:30 p.m.: Jury finds Barren County Sheriff Chris Eaton guilty on two counts of witness tampering. Deputy Aaron Bennett and Drug Task Force Detective Eric Guffey were acquitted on all counts.
The federal case against Barren County Sheriff Chris Eaton and two other southern Kentucky law enforcement officers is now in the hands of a jury.
Eaton, Barren County Sheriff's Deputy Aaron Bennett, and Barren-Edmonson Drug Task Force Detective Eric Guffey face charges of beating a suspect who was already in custody, and then lying about it to federal investigators.
Lawyers for Bennett and Guffey finished their closing statements Thursday morning, telling jurors they would have to believe the testimony of Adam Minor in order to find their clients guilty. Minor is a former Barren County Sheriff's Deputy who was on the scene of the incident in 2010 when suspect Billy Stinnett was taken into custody.
Minor initially pleaded guilty to the same charges facing the three defendants, but later changed his plea and agreed to testify for the prosecution.
Minor told jurors he took part in the alleged beating of Stinnett, along with the other three. Minor said the beating continued even after Stinnett was placed in handcuffs and unable to defend himself.
Attorneys for the three defendants attacked Minor's credibility throughout the trial, pointing out he has admitted to previously lying under oath to a state court and grand jury.
Lead Prosecutor Sanjay Patel tried to refute those defense arguments Thursday, telling jurors Minor realized he was on a sinking ship and decided to come forward and tell what really happened. Patel also pointed out that what Minor told jurors in this trial is supported by multiple eye-witnesses.
WKU President Gary Ransdell has spelled out how the school will handle a $2.1 million dollar budget cut next fiscal year.
In an email sent to faculty and staff Wednesday afternoon, Ransdell said that starting July 1, WKU will eliminate the budgets for the Faculty Center for Excellence in Teaching—or FACET--and the Center of Excellence in the College of Education and Behavioral Sciences.
Recurring funding will end for the Provost’s Initiative for Excellence, and the budgets of the ALIVE Center and Institute for Citizenship and Social Responsibility will be combined.
WKU will close its center in Radcliff, and will operate programs previously held there at its campuses in Elizabethtown and Ft. Knox.
Earlier this week, President Ransdell said the school had found ways to deal with the budget cuts without eliminating jobs, although some positions could be shifted to other departments on campus.
Here is an excerpt from the email Dr. Ransdell sent Wednesday:
Update at 4:45 p.m. : Sheriff Eaton's defense attorney Guthrie True concluded his closing arguments this afternoon and court was adjourned until Thursday morning when the attorneys for Aaron Bennett and Eric Guffey will give closing statements.
Update at 12:53 p.m.:
WKU Public Radio's Lisa Autry says closing statements are set for Wednesday afternoon in the federal trial against Barren County Sheriff Chris Eaton, Barren County Sheriff's Deputy Aaron Bennett, and Barren-Edmonson Drug Task Force Agent Eric Guffey.
Following those closing statements, the case will go to the jury at the U.S. District Court in Bowling Green.
The jury will be tasked with deciding whether the force used by law enforcement agents against drug suspect Billy Stinnett was reasonable or excessive. The three men are also charged with lying to federal investigators about the incident.
The defense for one of the three men accused of using excessive force on a suspect already in custody has rested Wednesday morning. On trial at the federal courthouse in Bowling Green are Barren County Sheriff Chris Eaton, Deputy Aaron Bennett, and Barren-Edmonson Drug Task Force Detective Eric Guffey.
Each of the accused is being represented by their own attorney. Sheriff Eaton's attorney, Guthrie True, rested his case, with attorneys for the other two men still engaging with witnesses this morning and afternoon.
The three defendants face charges of beating drug suspect Billy Stinnett while he was in custody, after Stinnett led officers on a high-speed, two-county chase in 2010. Stinnett crashed his vehicle into a Glasgow church and was placed under arrest.
The defendants say Stinnett resisted arrest, and that the force used against him was reasonable under the circumstances. Prosecutors say Stinnett was beated even after he was subdued and placed in handcuffs.
The National Weather Service has issued a flood watch for parts of South Central Kentucky, in effect from Saturday morning through Sunday evening.
Tonight, a strong upper level disturbance will bring a steady and slow-moving bands of moderate rains into the area, which as already received significant rainfal in the past month. Two to three inches of rain is forecast, and could cause some streams and rivers to rise to near flood stage.
A proposed budget for Daviess County includes a $1 million increase in spending on general fund operations, and a two-percent cost of living increase for county employees.
Daviess County Judge-Executive Al Mattingly presented an 87 page document outlining a $23.5 million dollar plan for general fund spending next fiscal year, a nearly 5 percent increase over the current year.
The Messenger-Inquirer reports the new budget keeps property and payroll tax rates at the same levels, and contains one-million-dollars less for the Daviess County Detention Center. The facility has generated more revenue on its one, and that $1 million will instead be freed up for capitol projects.
Mattingly says he’s happy the proposed county budget contains $2.5 million less in overall debt than the current fiscal year, with no new debt taken on next year.