Testimony began Tuesday in the federal trial of Barren County Sheriff Chris Eaton and two other law enforcement officers accused of beating a suspect in custody. The three are also charged with trying to cover up their actions by lying in documents given to the FBI.
On the witness stand Tuesday afternoon were two Glasgow sisters who witnessed the 2010 episode between the suspect and officers. First to speak was a fifteen-year-old who was 12 when a van crashed into a Glasgow church where she was preparing for evening worship with her youth group. She testified she wasn't sure how suspect Billy Stinnett got on the ground, but she said she saw uniformed officers kicking and hitting him.
She also testified that she didn't remember if Stinnett was in handcuffs or if he had a weapon.
Her older sister, who was 16 at the time, testified she saw Stinnett on the ground, with his hands cuffed behind his back. Defense attorneys asked the girls if they knew anything about the suspect, who was high on meth at time, or the two-county chase he had led officers on before crashing his van.
The girls said they didn't, and also said this was the first time they had ever seen anyone placed under arrest.
Jurors are expected to hear from several other teen witnesses in the trial that is expected to last up to two weeks.
Testimony begins Tuesday in the federal trial of Barren County Sheriff Chris Eaton and two other officers charged with using excessive force on a suspect in custody and lying about it to federal investigators.
Sheriff Eaton, Deputy Aaron Bennett, and Barren County Drug Task Force Detective Eric Guffey are accused of civil rights violations in the arrest of a methamphetamine suspect who led officers on a two-county car chase in 2010.
The defense will argue the suspect, Billy Stinnett, was combative and the use of force appropriate for the situation. Among the expected witnesses is former Deputy Adam Minor who was originally facing the same charges, but pleaded guilty to one charge of making false statements to the FBI. In a deal with prosecutors, Minor will testify against the sheriff and two other officers.
The trial in U.S. District Court in Bowling Green is expected to last at least a week.