Prosecutors in the trial of Barren County Sheriff Chris Eaton and two other southern Kentucky law enforcement agents have been calling FBI agents to the stand Tuesday.
Eaton, Barren County Sheriff's Deputy Aaron Bennett, and Barren-Edmonson County Drug Task Force Detective Eric Guffey are accused of beating drug suspect Billy Stinnett after he was taken into custody, and then lying about it to federal investigators.
The three law enforcement agents took Stinnett into custody after he led officers on a high-speed, two-county chase on Feb. 24, 2010. Stinnett has admitted he was high on meth at the time of the incident, and a mobile meth lab was found in the back of the vehicle he crashed into a Glasgow church.
FBI special agent Michael Schaffer told the court he interviewed Detective Eric Guffey twice in one day following the alleged beating of Stinnett. Schaffer says Guffey told two different stories about whether Stinnett was on the ground or standing when he was struck by officers.
The government is on the stand in the federal trial of Barren County Sheriff Chris Eaton, Deputy Aaron Bennett, and Detective Eric Guffey. The three are on trial in U.S. District Court in Bowling Green for using excessive force on a suspect and lying about it to federal investigators.
Part of Monday’s testimony came from the FBI’s lead investigator on the case. Special Agent Mike Brown interviewed the three officers at the Barren County Sheriff’s Office in April 2010, about two months after suspect Billy Stinnett was allegedly beaten after being handcuffed.
Brown began each interview by reminding the officers that if they lied, they could be criminally charged. Brown said he also gave each defendant an opportunity to make corrections to their written statements to the FBI, but each officer affirmed their report was accurate. The reports, however, contained inconsistencies between the defendants and eye witnesses at the arrest scene.
Defense attorneys took Brown through a timeline of what they saw as shoddy investigative work, including failure to record interviews with the defendants and the fact a private citizen was asked to collect evidence from the scene.
Agent Brown will resume his testimony Tuesday morning under cross-examination.
The prosecution continues to call witnesses Monday in the trial of Barren County Sheriff Chris Eaton and two other southern Kentucky law enforcement officers.
On the stand Monday is Dave McClellan, one of the two FBI agents who investigated the alleged beating of drug suspect Billy Stinnett, who led officers on a high-speed, two-county chase in February of 2010, before crashing his van into a Glasgow church.
McClellan interviewed Sheriff Eaton, Barren County Sheriff's Deputy Aaron Bennett, and Barren-Metcalfe Drug Task Force Detective Eric Guffey after the 2010 incident. Each of the three men were told they could be criminally charged if information in the report turned out to be false.
The officers were adamant that the written reports they had produced about the chase and arrest of Stinnett were accurate.
In the fourth day of testimony Friday in the federal trial of three southern Kentucky law enforcement officers, the prosecution continued to call expert witnesses to the stand.
Barren County Sheriff Chris Eaton, one of his deputies, and a Barren-Edmonson drug task force detective are accused of beating drug suspect Billy Stinnett while he was custody in Glasgow, and then lying about it to federal investigators.
On the witness stand Friday afternoon was Dr. Lee Carter, the on-duty emergency room physician at Glasgow's T.J. Samson Hospital the night of Feb. 24, 2010, when Billy Stinnett crashed his van into a Barren County church after leading officers on a high-speed chase.
Dr. Carter treated Stinnett for injuries Stinnett said were caused by beatings administered by law enforcement after he was handcuffed. Dr. Carter testified that Stinnett had blunt-force trauma to the head that could have been caused by a baton or fist.
The man who claims he was beaten by law enforcement officers in Barren County took the stand Thursday in the federal trial of Sheriff Chris Eaton, Deputy Aaron Bennett, and drug task force Detective Eric Guffey.
Billy Stinnett, a convicted felon and meth addict, led officers on a high speed chase through Hart and Barren counties before crashing his van into a Glasgow church.
According to Stinnett, he got out of the van, threw his hands up and starting going to the ground when Sheriff Eaton began hitting him in the head with a baton. When backup arrived that day in 2010, Stinnett claims the other officers joined in the attack even though he was in handcuffs.
Stinnett has a civil suit pending against the defendants.
The man who says he was beaten by four southern Kentucky law enforcement officers while in custody is on the stand Thursday at the federal courthouse in Bowling Green.
Barren County Sheriff Chris Eaton, deputy Aaron Bennett, and Barren-Edmonson Drug Task Force Detective Eric Guffey face charges of beating suspect Billy Stinnett, and then lying about it to federal investigators. A fourth officer who took part in the beating avoided prosecution by testifying against the other three.
On the stand Thursday, Stinnett acknowledged that he led the officers on a high-speed chase through two counties before crashing his van into a Glasgow church. Stinnett also admitted that he was high on meth at the time, and had a mobile meth lab in the back of his vehicle.
Stinnett says after he crashed into the church he thew his hands up in the air and started going to the ground. Stinnett testified that Sheriff Eaton then began to strike him on the head with a baton without giving any commands.
The prosecution will call more witnesses Thursday in the trial of Barren County Sheriff Chris Eaton, Deputy Aaron Bennett, and drug task force Detective Eric Guffey. The law enforcement officers are facing federal charges of deprivation of rights and obstruction of justice relating to the arrest of a suspect and the resulting FBI investigation.
The defense spent most of Wednesday cross-examining former deputy Adam Minor, who in 2010, joined in the arrest of meth suspect Billy Stinnett following an hour-long car and foot chase.
Minor first entered a not guilty plea, but later pled guilty to one count of making false statements to federal investigators. Minor is cooperating with the government and testifying against Sheriff Eaton and the other officers.
Minor told jurors when he arrived on the scene that day, Stinnett was already in handcuffs and non-combative, although the alleged beating of Stinnett continued. Minor admitted to kicking the suspect while Deputy Bennett threw punches at his head and while Sheriff Eaton took swings at him with a baton.
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.
Testimony resumes Wednesday in the trial of Barren County Sheriff Chris Eaton, former deputy Aaron Bennett, and Barren County Drug Task Force Detective Eric Guffey. The three law enforcement officers are accused of beating a suspect in custody and trying to cover up the assault to federal investigators.
The prosecution's star witness, Adam Minor, was on the witness stand for most of the day Tuesday. Minor said he was a willing participant in the alleged attack on suspect Billy Stinnett. Originally facing the same federal charges as the officers on trial, he pleaded guilty to one of the charges and agreed to testify for the prosecution in exchange for a lighter sentence.
Minor 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.
Testimony began Tuesday in the federal trial of Barren County Sheriff Chris Eaton and two other law enforcement officers accused of beating a suspect in custody. The three are also charged with trying to cover up their actions by lying in documents given to the FBI.
On the witness stand Tuesday afternoon were two Glasgow sisters who witnessed the 2010 episode between the suspect and officers. First to speak was a fifteen-year-old who was 12 when a van crashed into a Glasgow church where she was preparing for evening worship with her youth group. She testified she wasn't sure how suspect Billy Stinnett got on the ground, but she said she saw uniformed officers kicking and hitting him.
She also testified that she didn't remember if Stinnett was in handcuffs or if he had a weapon.
Her older sister, who was 16 at the time, testified she saw Stinnett on the ground, with his hands cuffed behind his back. Defense attorneys asked the girls if they knew anything about the suspect, who was high on meth at time, or the two-county chase he had led officers on before crashing his van.
The girls said they didn't, and also said this was the first time they had ever seen anyone placed under arrest.
Jurors are expected to hear from several other teen witnesses in the trial that is expected to last up to two weeks.