Batesville Municipal Court 4/19/13

Published 12:00 am Friday, April 19, 2013

Long-delayed case resolved after mom brings witness to court

By Emily D. Williams

A case was finalized Wednesday during Batesville Municipal Court, after several months of continuances, when Judge Jay Westfaul ruled that James Sawyer of 602 Elm St., Marks, was not guilty of possession of marijuana in a vehicle.

Sawyer and two other defendants had been arrested December 12 after police found marijuana in Sawyer’s vehicle, which had been occupied by all three young men. The vehicle was parked on Campbell Street where there was a party in the vicinity.

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In city court in February, Sawyer, 18, had denied that the marijuana was his, but had pleaded guilty to possession of alcohol by a minor, a charge filed at the same time. He was fined $335 and the marijuana case was continued. The other two defendants were not charged as adults.

The case was delayed as witnesses were sought and subpoenaed to testify.

In Wednesday’s court session Michael Woods, one of the witnesses, was present to testify after being picked up by Sawyer’s mother.

Woods testified that the marijuana was his and that Sawyer had nothing to do with the marijuana.
“I didn’t know him (Sawyer) prior to that night. I asked Tyler Bell (the other witness) where we could smoke and he said in his buddy’s vehicle,” said Woods.

Woods said Sawyer was not at the vehicle and had walked up wanting to know what they were doing and was only there a matter of seconds before police surrounded them.

Tyler Bell, who had been subpoenaed, was not in court.

Officer Greg Jones testified he was on patrol when he heard loud music and checked the area. He said he noticed quite a few vehicles and saw juveniles getting beer from a cooler.

He said he was in the woods at that time and as he got closer he saw the juveniles smoking marijuana and he called for another officer.

Due to the three subjects denying the marijuana was theirs and the vehicle belonging to Sawyer, all three were arrested.

“The police officer in charge of the prosecution of the case was well-prepared and did about as best as any police officer could do under the circumstances,” Judge Westfaul said.

Because Woods testified that the contraband was his and not Sawyer’s, Westfaul said he could not find “beyond a reasonable doubt” that Sawyer was guilty of possession of the marijuana.

Sawyer’s fine for the minor in possession violation is due April 24.

Referred to grand jury
John Patrick Ragon, 2702 Bell St., Avondale, Mo, was referred to the grand jury for felony possession of a controlled substance, possession of marijuana in a vehicle, driving while license suspended, no proof of insurance, domestic violence and simple assault. His bond was  reduced from $151,500 to $50,000.

April N Danner, 200 High St., Platte City, Mo., was referred to the grand jury for felony possession of controlled substance, possession of marijuana in a vehicle, domestic violence-simple assault. Her bond was reduced from $151,000 to $25,000.

Other cases
Aaron Hawkins, 2270 Hwy. 51 North, Batesville, 22700 Hwy. 51 North Apt. 3-D, Sardis, had a shoplifting case remanded to the files after Hawkins explained he was not on his medication that day.

“How do you plead to these charges?” Westfaul asked after he read the charges of shoplifting three stickers with crosses on them, a cross emblem and a stick cross from Autozone, worth $35.95.

“I plead insanity,” said Hawkins.

“I have to conduct a validity hearing,” Westfaul said.

The defendant couldn’t tell what day it was and when asked who the president of the United States was he answered, “I am unsure. I know it’s a black man.”

A family member told the judge Hawkins was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia.

“I take medication for hearing voices,” said Hawkins.

“Keep taking your medication,” the judge advised.

“I am satisfied that mental problems contributed to the shoplifting,” the judge ruled.

Dewayne Armstead, 1424 Figg Rd., Batesville, had a warrant issued for his arrest after failing to appear to answer an open container charge.

Michael Johnson, 91H Elbert Smith Rd., Batesville, entered a guilty plea to possession of marijuana in vehicle, no driver’s license, no proof of insurance and failure to use turn signal. He was fined $1,734.

He also had old fines of $610 that have been due since May 2009. He was sentenced to 30 days in jail for failing to have his fines paid.

Sherita Howard, 3063 Lincoln St., Sardis, entered a guilty plea to possession of marijuana in a vehicle, no tag light and no proof of insurance. She got insurance after the ticket was issued making her fine less.
She was fined $1,028.

Anthony Griffin, 4127 Seven Rd., Batesville, entered a guilty plea to possession of marijuana in a vehicle and no seat belt. He was fined $703.

Jessie L. Taylor Jr., 121 Hoskins Rd., Batesville, entered a guilty plea to malicious mischief and was fined $313.

Jerrod Jones, 107 MLK No. 4, Batesville, entered a guilty plea to disorderly conduct-failure to comply. He was fined $632.

Carl Pritchard, 200 Hwy. 51 South, Batesville, entered a guilty plea to domestic violence-simple assault. He was fined $402.

Freida S. Roden, 115 Willis Dr., Tupelo, entered a guilty plea to DUI and was fined $779.

Deborah Pittman, 105 Curtis-Lock Station, Batesville, entered a guilty plea to DUI-other. She had a charge for leaving scene of accident remanded for 60 days.

James P. Fletcher, 113 Cole Dr., Batesville, was found guilty of improper tag and fined $212.

Bronjase Willingham, 210 Pearson, Batesville, was found guilty in his absence after failing to appear to for a case for domestic violence -simple assault.

Dillard Roach, 211 Tubbs No. 5, Batesville, failed to appear for a possession of paraphernalia case. He was found guilty and fined $370.