CINCINNATI — Former Barren County Sheriff Chris Eaton’s appeal of his federal convictions on two charges of witness tampering moved forward Thursday with oral arguments.
A three-judge panel with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit punctuated the attorneys’ presentations with questions as they had with all six cases on the docket preceding Eaton’s, which was the last one it heard for the day. The trio’s decision will come at some point later in writing.
Eaton’s attorney, Guthrie True, has based the appeal on a handful of premises, and he began his allotted 15 minutes, three of which he reserved for rebuttal, by saying the charges were grounded on a “collateral and immaterial dispute.
What he has considered the primary point of disagreement is over when and where Billy Randall Stinnett had a knife on Feb. 24, 2010, when he was arrested on multiple charges following an hourlong chase that ended with his crashing the vehicle he was driving into a church building, taking off on foot and being caught when he reached a confined area.
Eaton and three others were charged with multiple offenses related to allegations that Stinnett was beaten after he was handcuffed and then tried to conceal what happened. A jury in U.S. District Court, Western District of Kentucky, in Bowling Green acquitted two of the others on all charges and Eaton of six of the eight charges. The other person – Adam Minor – accepted a plea deal and became a cooperating witness.
Minor claimed that Eaton asked him to lie about the extent of the force that was used in Stinnett’s arrest and to say that Stinnett pulled a knife on Eaton although Minor said Eaton pulled the knife from Stinnett’s pocket after he was detained. Another then-deputy, Steve Runyon, claimed Eaton wanted him to say he had seen a knife in the area where Eaton first caught up with and confronted Stinnett.