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.
Testimony begins Tuesday in the federal trial of Barren County Sheriff Chris Eaton and two other officers charged with using excessive force on a suspect in custody and lying about it to federal investigators.
Sheriff Eaton, Deputy Aaron Bennett, and Barren County Drug Task Force Detective Eric Guffey are accused of civil rights violations in the arrest of a methamphetamine suspect who led officers on a two-county car chase in 2010.
The defense will argue the suspect, Billy Stinnett, was combative and the use of force appropriate for the situation. Among the expected witnesses is former Deputy Adam Minor who was originally facing the same charges, but pleaded guilty to one charge of making false statements to the FBI. In a deal with prosecutors, Minor will testify against the sheriff and two other officers.
The trial in U.S. District Court in Bowling Green is expected to last at least a week.
Barren County Sheriff Chris Eaton, a deputy sheriff, and a detective go on trial Monday on charges of civil rights violations and lying to federal investigators. The case stems from a 2010 arrest in which the three officers were accused of using excessive force.
Jury selection begins Monday at 9:00am in U.S. District Court in Bowling Green for Sheriff Chris Eaton, Deputy Aaron Bennett, and Barren-Edmonson County Drug Task Force Detective Eric Guffey.
According to the federal indictment, a 13-year old girl was at a Glasgow church on the night of February 24, 2010, when she looked out the window and saw suspect Billy Randall Stinnett struggling with the local sheriff and several deputies.
In testimony to the FBI, the girl and four other teenagers present say they saw Eaton and the deputies beating Stinnett to the point where they thought he was being murdered.
Barren County Sheriff Chris Eaton and three deputies have entered not guilty pleas Wednesday in U.S District Court. The four are accused of civil rights violations and obstruction of justice. The Glasgow Daily Times reports Sheriff Eaton and deputies Adam Minor, Eric Guffey, and Aaron Bennett were arraigned in federal court in Bowling Green. The charges against them stem from an incident on February 22, 2011.