By AMANDA LOVIZA VICKERY
Glasgow Daily Times
BOWLING GREEN —
Glasgow Police Officer Jessie Barton did not arrive at the scene of Billy Randall Stinnett’s arrest until after Stinnett was apprehended, but he saw enough post-arrest action to warrant being subpoenaed as a government witness in the federal trial against Barren County Sheriff Chris Eaton, Deputy Aaron Bennett and Barren-Edmonson Drug Task Force detective.
Barton testified Wednesday afternoon about what he saw on Feb. 24, 2010. He arrived at the corner of Cherry Street and Columbia Avenue between 30 seconds and a minute after he heard on his police radio that Stinnett had crashed into a Calvary Baptist Church building at that corner. He ran out of his cruiser and around the corner of a house, where he met up with Eaton, who was walking toward Cherry Street, Barton said. After seeing Eaton, Barton continued in the direction of the alleyway between church buildings where Stinnett was arrested. When Barton came within sight range, he saw Bennett and then-deputy Adam Minor escorting Stinnett out of the dead end where they arrested him. Stinnett was handcuffed.
Barton met up with the deputies and walked through a perpendicular alley, where Stinnett had crashed his van. Bennett at some point moved away, Barton said, and he and Minor were walking with Stinnett as they came out of the alley.
Eaton walked up to Stinnett, Barton testified, and said, “You didn’t expect to see me here, did you” and some curse words, and then Barton alleged that Eaton punched Stinnett in the groin or abdominal area. Stinnett grunted and doubled over, Barton said. Barton himself even said something to Stinnett about wanting to hit him, he said.
Barton hates testifying against fellow law enforcement officers, because they are like brothers, he told attorneys in court. Barton originally gave false testimonies to FBI agent Mike Brown, prosecutors and a federal grand jury. Some information in his early testimonies was unintentionally false due to a lack of memory, Barton said, but he intentionally misled investigators and the grand jury about Eaton’s assault on Stinnett. Barton told the grand jury that he was ahead of Stinnett and heard Eaton curse at him and heard Stinnett grunt, but didn’t actually see Eaton hit Stinnett. That was a false statement, Barton testified Wednesday in federal court.
“I didn’t want to get any of these guys in trouble; however, I was hoping we wouldn’t be here today,” Barton said.
Barton gave four interviews and one grand jury testimony over the course of two and a half years that said he did not see Eaton hit Stinnett. He did not change his testimony until October 2012, when he expected the case to go to trial in December 2012. Barton has not been charged by the prosecutors with making a false statement to a federal grand jury or a federal agent.
Both prosecutor Sanjay Patel and Eaton’s defense attorney, J. Guthrie True, asked Barton about his relationship with Eaton and Eaton’s past relationship with Barton’s ex-wife. Eaton had an affair with Candy Reed before Reed married Barton, but Barton testified that to his knowledge the relationship did not overlap his marriage to Reed.
Barton and Reed were married for about a year and a half and divorced about two years ago, Barton said. Knowing that Eaton had an affair with Reed before Barton married her did not have an impact on his relationship with Eaton or cause any animosity, Barton said.