Chris Eaton

Regional
5:35 am
Wed November 19, 2014

Barren County Will Pay to Settle Lawsuit Against Former Sheriff

The county's fiscal court Tuesday night approved paying Billy Stinnett $20,000 to settle his claim of excessive force against former sheriff Chris Eaton and four deputies.

Third district magistrate Carl Dickerson told the Glasgow Daily Times he was torn about approving the money but it "was time the lawsuit goes away."

Magistrate Chris Steward disagreed with the settlement, saying he felt like "we're being almost extorted to do this."

The Kentucky Association of Counties will pay a portion of the $20,000 if it stands, how much hasn't been decided.

Regional
5:48 am
Wed June 4, 2014

Appeals Court to Hear Case of Former Barren County Sheriff

A federal appeals court is set to take up the case of former Barren County sheriff Chris Eaton's conviction on two counts of witness tampering.

The U. S. 6th Circuit Court of Appeals will hear arguments in Eaton's case on June 19 in Cincinnati.

A federal jury in Bowling Green convicted Eaton in 2013 of directing two deputies to write false incident reports for the FBI.

Federal investigators were probing accusations of civil rights violations during a 2010 arrest. Eaton was sentenced to 18 months in prison.

U. S. District Judge Joseph H. McKinley concluded that Eaton raised two reasonable issues that could result in his winning a new trial and allowed him to remain free on bond while the appeal is heard.

Regional
8:01 am
Sun September 22, 2013

Judge: Former Barren County Sheriff Eaton Can Remain Free During Appeal

A federal judge is allowing former Barren County Sheriff Chris Eaton to remain free while he appeals his conviction on two counts of witness tampering.

U.S. District Judge Joseph H. McKinley concluded that Eaton has raised two reasonable issues that could result in his winning a new trial. Eaton had been scheduled to report to a federal prison in Oakdale, La., by Sept. 30 to begin serving an 18-month prison sentence.

He was convicted this year in federal court of directing two deputies to write false incident reports for the FBI. Federal investigators were probing accusations of civil rights violations during a 2010 arrest. Prosecutors had sought to force his immediate surrender, but McKinley noted that Eaton has complied with all pre-trial release conditions and is not a flight risk.

Regional
8:03 pm
Mon August 5, 2013

Barren County's New Sheriff is No Stranger to the Department

Kent Keen speaks to community members following his introduction as the new sheriff of Barren County.
Credit Lisa Autry

When Barren County Judge-Executive Davie Greer began looking for a new sheriff, she didn't have to go far.  She choose Kent Keen, who retired from the Glasgow Police Department and joined the sheriff's office a year ago as a school resource officer.  

Monday's announcement attracted a standing room- only crowd inside a Barren County circuit courtroom.  A full contingent of uniformed officers stood behind him as Keen pledged to run the department by the book.

"I have three guidelines that I operate off of, and that's the KRS (Kentucky Revised Statues), the Barren County Sheriff's Department policy manual, and the Bible, just to be honest with you," explained Keen. "Some God-given common sense may go a long way, folks."

Noticeably present at Monday's announcement was Deputy Aaron Bennett, who stood trial in May alongside former Sheriff Chris Eaton. Bennett was also accused of using excessive force on a suspect in 2010 and lying about it to federal investigators.  Bennett was acquitted on all charges. He told WKU Public Radio that seeing Keen sworn in felt like the beginning of a new era at the sheriff's office.

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Regional
4:44 pm
Mon August 5, 2013

New Barren County Sheriff is Familiar Face to Department

Kent Keen has been named the new Barren County Sheriff.

Barren County Judge-Executive Davie Greer made the announcement to a standing-room only crowd at the county courthouse Monday afternoon.

Keen worked at the Glasgow Police Department before joining the Barren County Sheriff's Department as a school resource officer. He has over 20 year of experience in law enforcement.

Keen takes over from Chris Eaton, who resigned the position last week before being sentenced to 18 months in prison for witness tampering.

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Regional
2:14 pm
Sat August 3, 2013

New Barren County Sheriff to Be Named Monday

There's going to be a new sheriff in town Monday in Barren County.

Judge-Executive Davie Greer told the Glasgow Daily Times that's when she plans to announce her appointment for the position.

Former Barren County Sheriff Chris Eaton resigned Wednesday, and was sentenced the next day to 18 months in prison for persuading two deputies to write false incident reports in an FBI investigation of an alleged beating during an arrest.

The 42-year-old Eaton, of Glasgow, was acquitted during his trial in May of using excessive force but convicted of witness tampering.

Greer told the newspaper that she had narrowed her selection "to four or five" people.

Regional
3:16 pm
Thu August 1, 2013

Former Barren County Sheriff Sentenced to 18 Months in Prison

Former Barren County Sheriff Chris Eaton will spend a year and a half in prison related to his trial on civil rights violations. Eaton was sentenced Thursday in federal court in Bowling Green. 

In a courtroom packed with family and friends, Eaton wept as he talked about all the things he could no longer do as a convicted felon, such as coach Little League and volunteer in schools. He told U.S. District Court Judge Joseph McKinley that he felt like a “child predator."

“My life is over as I know it,” sobbed Eaton.

Judge McKinley replied that by all accounts, Eaton was a model citizen, but his punishment must reflect the seriousness of the convictions and the former sheriff's position of authority. 

“The buck stops with you”, said McKinley. “You were in charge that day.”

Judge McKinley strayed from the prosecution's recommendation of at least seven years and ordered Eaton to serve 18 months in prison followed by two years of supervised release.

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Regional
5:45 am
Wed July 24, 2013

Convicted Barren County Sheriff to Resign

Ahead of his August 1st sentencing, Barren County Sheriff Chris Eaton will resign from office at the end of the month. WKU Public Radio learned of the resignation in a sentencing memorandum filed in federal court. 

In May, Eaton was convicted on two felony counts of witness tampering relating to the alleged beating of a suspect and a cover-up that followed.  

U.S. District Judge Joseph McKinley last week denied a motion to overturn the verdicts or grant the sheriff a new trial.  Prosecutors are asking for a prison sentence of seven to nine years, while the defense is hoping for ten to 16 months. 

With his resignation, Barren County Judge-Executive Davie Greer says she will have to appoint a new sheriff to serve out the remainder of Chris Eaton’s term, which ends next December.

Regional
4:44 am
Thu July 18, 2013

Judge Uphold Verdicts in Barren County Sheriff Case

The Aug. 1 sentencing of Barren County Sheriff Chris Eaton remains on schedule after a federal judge rejected a motion for acquittal or a new trial. 

In May, Eaton was convicted on two counts of witness tampering during a trial in U.S. District Court in Bowling Green.  The sheriff and two other law enforcement officers were accused of beating a suspect in handcuffs and trying to cover-up the incident to federal investigators. 

The witness tampering convictions stem from Sheriff Eaton asking two deputies to lie in reports to the FBI about what they saw at the scene of Billy Stinnett’s arrest.  U.S. District Judge Joseph McKinley this week issued a ruling upholding the jury’s verdicts. 

“Ultimately, based on evidence presented at trial, a reasonable juror could believe that while there was not sufficient evidence to convict Eaton on the unreasonable use of force charges, there was sufficient evidence to believe that Eaton engaged in witness tampering," McKinley wrote in his order.

When he is sentenced next month, Eaton faces up to 20 years in prison, though under federal sentencing guidelines, he is likely to receive a much lighter sentence.

Regional
10:32 am
Thu May 9, 2013

Federal Case Against Eaton, Two Others, Now in the Hands of a Jury

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.

Original Post:

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.

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