By AMANDA LOVIZA VICKERY
Glasgow Daily Times
BOWLING GREEN —
Kelly Billingsley was nowhere near the scene of the alleged beating of Billy Randall Stinnett by law enforcement officers on Feb. 24, 2010, but Barren County Sheriff Chris Eaton, deputy Aaron Bennett and Barren-Edmonson Drug Task Force detective Eric Guffey would not be on trial this week if it weren’t for Billingsley.
Billingsley’s son and daughter were at Calvary Baptist Church that evening, getting ready for a Wednesday service, when they allegedly witnessed law enforcement officers use unnecessary force against Stinnett, even after he was in handcuffs. Billingsley’s daughter testified in court on Tuesday.
Billingsley first heard about an unusual incident at his church by a phone call from his wife on Feb. 24, 2010, and he went to the church that night to find out what happened. What the two children told him that night was hard to believe, Billingsley said, but his children were certain of what they saw.
“Both of them were very confident in what they saw,” Billingsley said. “And then I became very concerned.”
A few days later, Billingsley ran into Glasgow Police Detective Jennifer Arbogast, and talked to her about what his children told him. He asked Arbogast to find an answer for him, Billingsley said. He later received a call from then-Police Chief Horace Johnson, who told Billingsley he had contacted the FBI and an agent would call Billingsley. Agent Mike Brown was the one to later call Billingsley and discuss the incident.
On March 4, Billingsley’s brother found a glove outside the church, and showed it to Billingsley. The glove was a match to a glove shown in evidence photos to have been in the van Stinnett was driving. It was not Stinnett’s van, and Stinnett has testified that the gloves were not his and he does not know how one got to the area where he was arrested. The glove on the ground outside Calvary Baptist was “saturated” in what appeared to be blood, Billingsley testified.
Billingsley called Brown to tell him about the glove. Brown told Billingsley he was not in the area and would not be in the area very soon, so he asked Billingsley to collect the glove for evidence.
“To my surprise, yes,” Billingsley said when J. Guthrie True, defense attorney for Eaton, asked him in cross examination to confirm that Brown asked him to process the glove as possible evidence in a criminal case.
Billingsley followed Brown’s instructions to photograph the glove in its location and then collect it in a plastic bag without touching it, he said. Billingsley then stored the glove in his bedroom until Brown visited about a week later, Billingsley testified. Brown was in Glasgow on March 4 interviewing Stinnett and Eaton, but Billingsley told True that the agent did not mention that to him and it was about 6 p.m. when the glove was found.
Billingsley and his daughter returned to the scene of the arrest two days later in daylight, and found what appeared to be blood splattered across an air conditioning unit and wall about 18 to 20 feet away from where the glove was found, he testified. The Billingsleys photographed the alleged blood, and gave Brown a CD of the photos when he came to Glasgow to get the glove on or about March 11, 2010.
Deciding to report the alleged crime was a hard decision, Billingsley said, especially out of concern for his children’s safety.
“I ultimately decided this was the right thing to do,” Billingsley said.