Day two of testimony is underway in the trial of Barren County Sheriff Chris Eaton and two other law enforcement officers who are accused of beating a witness who was in custody, and then lying to the FBI about it.
The three are charged with violating the civil rights on suspect Billy Stinnett following his arrest in 2010 in Glasgow. Testimony resumed Wednesday morning with prosecution witness and former Barren County Sheriff's deputy Adam Minor.
Under questioning by federal prosecutor Sanjay Patel, Minor admitted to lying under oath on three different occasions because Sheriff Eaton told him to do so. Minor said he feared being fired, or worse.
Under cross-examination by defense attorney Guthrie True, Minor acknowledged that he had previously denied taking part in the beating of Stinnett in testimony in state court and before a grand jury. True implied during his questioning that since Minor was willing to lie to a grand jury of Glasgow citizens he was supposed to protect and serve, then he would surely be willing to lie now to jurors at the Warren County federal courthouse.
Minor insisted he was now telling the truth about what happened.
Minor yesterday told jurors when he and other officers arrived on the scene on February 24, 2010, Sheriff Eaton was beating Stinnett with a baton and allegedly said, “It’s your all’s turn.” Minor admitted hitting Stinnett because he was mad after the hour-long pursuit through two counties before Stinnett crashed his van into a Glasgow church.
Minor testified that Barren-Edmonson County Drug Task Force Detective Eric Guffey handcuffed Stinnett while Barren County Sheriff's Deputy Aaron Bennett joined in the attack, punching Stinnett several times in the head and causing him to bleed. Federal prosecutor Patel asked Minor if anyone tried to stop the abuse, and he replied "no".
According to Minor, the assault continued after Stinnett was handcuffed.
Each officer involved had to write a report for the FBI, and Minor said in court that Sheriff Eaton told them to write that Stinnett pulled a knife on him. Days later, Minor claimed that the sheriff laughed about the run-in and said he never thought the suspect was armed. Eaton allegedly told the officers who arrived at the scene later that Stinnett actually put up his hands and said he was done, yet Eaton kept screaming into his police radio and hitting Stinnett with the baton.
Eaton's defense attorney, Guthrie True, has said that Stinnett's injuries were not consistent with excessive force.