Barren County Sheriff Chris Eaton's defense attorney is seeking a dismissal of Eaton's felony convictions or a new trial. Eaton was convicted of witness tampering charges following a trial in U.S. District Court earlier this month.
Frankfort attorney J. Guthrie True filed a motion for judgment of acquittal and alternative motion for a new trial Thursday in Eaton's case.
Eaton was convicted May 9 at the end of a nine-day federal trial on two charges of witness tampering, for directing two deputies to include false information in reports they wrote related to the Feb. 24, 2010, arrest of Billy Randall Stinnett. Stinnett's arrest was under scrutiny by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, because the law enforcement officers involved in the arrest were accused of beating Stinnett after he was in handcuffs. During trial, however, Eaton and defendants deputy Aaron Bennett and Barren-Edmonson drug task force detective Eric Guffey were all acquitted of assaulting Stinnett and making false statements to the FBI regarding the arrest.
The jury's instructions stated that in order to find Eaton guilty of counts 4 and 5, the two charges of witness tampering, Eaton had to knowingly intimidate deputies Steve Runyon and Joseph Adam Minor; he acted with the intent to hinder communication of information to federal investigators; and the information had to relate to the commission or possible commission of a federal offense.
Runyon and Minor each testified that the false information Eaton directed them to provide in their reports was related to whether Stinnett was armed and how or where a knife was found at the scene of the arrest. That information “is completely irrelevant and immaterial” to the allegation that Eaton and other officer assaulted Stinnett after he was handcuffed, True wrote in his motion.
A full story will be provided in the Friday, May 24, print and digital Glasgow Daily Times. http://glasgowdailytimes.cnhi.newsmemory.com/