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Henry County Case Involving Golf Cart

Rickey Stokes

Viewed: 9309

Posted by: RStokes
Date: Aug 14 2014 10:47 AM

HENRY COUNTY:    On Tuesday of this week Preliminary Hearings were scheduled in Henry County District Court for Cole Battles and Judson Buchanan. Both are charged by Henry County Sheriff Investigator Mock on charges of Attempted Murder and Robbery.


The charges stem from an incident alleged to have occurred in June 2014 at Hardridge Creek Campground.


NOTE:    This incident involved my, Rickey Stokes, golf cart. I was not at the lake but my golf cart stays at the lake.


PRELIMINARY HEARINGS


These are held before the District Court Judge. In this case was Judge Derek Peterson. They are probable cause hearings. Hear say is admissible. The burden to establish probable cause are very minimum.


Whatever a District Court Judge rules does not prevent the District Attorney in carrying a case before a Grand Jury. Historically District Court Judges have dismissed or reduced charges, only for the District Attorney’s Grand Jury to indict anyway.


Grand Juries are controlled by the District Attorney. The hear only one side of the case, not both sides. They are a waste of time and it is easy to have anyone indicted for any reason.


WAIVER


Attorney Shaun McGhee represents Judson Buchanan. McGhee waived the preliminary hearing for Buchanan. That means his case goes to Grand Jury on the original charges of Attempted Murder and Robbery.


Attorney’s make decisions to have preliminary hearings for specific reasons and some make decisions to waive preliminary hearings. That is a judgment call by attorney’s.


Attorney Derek Yarbrough held a preliminary hearing and did not waive the hearing. In preliminary hearings there are not usually court reporters, unless the defendant hires a court reporter.


The testimony is under oath and sworn. In this case a court reporter was hired and there is a record of the sworn testimony.


PRELIMINARY HEARING


The State of Alabama was represented by Attorney Sam Clenny. The defendant, Cole Battles, was represented by Attorney Derek Yarbrough.


Clenny called four witnesses. The victim, Kelli Whitehurst, her husband Jason Whitehurst, Henry County Sheriff Deputy Noel Vanlandingham, Investigator Mock and Sheriff Admiral Culbreth.


The victim testified the weather caused them to be awake. That she and her husband saw the golf cart. Testified that she saw two persons on the golf cart. That the passenger urinated and the driver hooked to the golf cart.


The victim testified as they two persons on the golf cart with the trailer came from the loop where the trailer was, that she came from between two vehicles towards the persons on the golf cart. The victim testified that she “surprised” them. The victim testified she yelled at the persons on the golf cart “what the hell are you doing”. As she approached the two persons on the golf cart, the driver pushed her and swerved to the right.


The victim, who was wearing flip flops, fell. The driver had corrected the course of travel and the boat trailer struck the victim.  The husband yelled for the two to stop because his wife was under the trailer, and the golf cart stopped. Testimony was the two persons ran.


The husband started to run after the two persons but stopped and went back to his wife.


The victim testified that her husband told her not to approach the persons on the golf cart. The husband said they would get the car keys and cell phone and follow. The victim ignored the directions of the husband and ran towards the two persons on the golf cart.


The victim removed herself from under the boat trailer. The victim testified that she went into their camper and woke her step son and then went to the camper of her parents. That she sit in a chair. A nurse in the campground treated her and prevented her from going into shock. The ambulance arrived after Deputy Vanlandingham. The victim was transported to SAMC where she remained for 7 days.


Testimony was a camper called Rickey Stokes telling of the incident. NOTE: I was called news wise. A wallet was found on the golf cart of a third person and the caller called me back news wise. At the time I asked the description of the golf cart and told them it was mine and where to go to in the trailer park, not in the campground where everyone was staying.


Deputy Vanlandingham took the victim’s husband to the trailer Stokes sent them to. Deputy Vanlandingham testified he could not get anyone to answer the front door and he went to the back door and was able to open it. Deputy Vanlandingham went inside. Battles came out of the bedroom.


Deputy Vanlandingham and Battles went to the front porch where the victim’s husband, eye witness, was standing. Testimony was that Battles introduced himself and shook the hand of the victim’s husband. Others were brought from the trailer to the victim’s husband. At that time, none in the trailer were identified as the suspects. Both Battles and Buchanan were in the trailer.


After non identification by the husband, the Deputy and victim’s husband returned to the scene.


The husband asked could he leave and go to the hospital.


The husband testified that when he arrived at the hospital his wife was in CAT Scan. When she returned to the room, the victim asked her husband what had transpired. The husband described to her what had taken place to include the visit to the trailer. The victim asked her husband the names of the persons. Testimony was the victim asked her to pull up the facebook page of Battles.


The victim testified that she recognized the “bushy” eyebrows and eyes of Battles after her husband gave her the name of who was at the trailer. The husband could not identify at the time the persons were in front of him.


Deputy Vanlandingham testified that there was no positive identification at the scene by the victim’s husband. The scene was turned over to Henry County Sheriff Investigators.


Deputy Mock testified. He did not have any information. Mock said in a search warrant of the trailer where the defendants were at clothes were taken that a witness described. The only two witnesses said they could not describe the clothing. The investigator did not know where the clothing witnesses came from.


Admiral Culbreth testified that K-9 track dogs came to the scene. He was not with the dogs. Culbreth could not remember the defendants names. Culbreth said three persons were carried into the Henry County Jail. One was questioned but no tape statements or written statements were taken.


The victim and husband said they wrote statements 7 days after the incident when the victim was released from the hospital. Prior to that no written statement.


The investigators said some evidence collected. The boat trailer alleged to have run over the victim was released to the father of the victim. The golf cart was taken and refused to be released. It has been turned over to the FBI.


There was no identification by the victim's of Buchanan. Only the eye brows and eyes from a facebook picture is how the victim testified she recognized Battles.



BOUND OVER TO GRAND JURY


After hearing the testimony, Judge Peterson bound the case of Battles over to a Henry County Grand Jury. Judge Peterson reduced the charge from Attempted Murder to Assault, but left the robbery charge.


Buchanan’s case goes on standing charges to the Grand Jury because the preliminary hearing was waived.


FBI ( Federal Bureau of Investigation )


There was testimony that the golf cart and evidence has been turned over the to the FBI. The prosecution could taken over by the United States Attorney’s Office because this incident occurred in Hardridge Creek Campground, which is owned by the United States Corp of Engineers.


The Henry County Grand Jury begins next week. Not sure if this case will be on that Grand Jury or the following Grand Jury.


The Federal Grand Jury begins in three weeks. It is unknown if this case will be on that Federal  Grand Jury. It is known FBI Agents are questioning persons about the incident.


At this time, the charges exist in State of Alabama Court system. It is unknown if the FBI will also prosecute or take over the state case, or if they will be tried in both courts.


Both Battles and Buchanan have pled NOT GUILTY.


NOTE: 


I have waited on this article because it involved my golf cart. I wanted to be fair to all parties involved.


Attorney Huntley Johnson said a long time ago, write things, sit on them for 3 days and then send.


This article is meant to describe the testimony in open court.



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