U.S. District Attorney's Office rests its case in Smith proceedings

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

TERRE HAUTE -- The U.S. District Attorney's Office rested its case on the third day of the trial of Putnam County Sheriff's Department (PCSD) Deputy Terry "T.J." Smith.

In the morning court session, Mike Bain was called to testify regarding the incidents that took place at the Cloverdale Truck Stop on Dec. 28, 2013.

Bain said he was on-shift as a cook just after 3 a.m. when Amber Stwalley, then a waitress at the restaurant, arrived agitated and harassing a table at the truck stop.

He testified that while Stwalley had been taken to the kitchen to be calmed, Sheriff Reserve Deputy Andrew "Mo" Fenwick (son of Sheriff Steve Fenwick and the subject of a related federal trial to take place on Dec. 1, 2014) came into the kitchen to assist and was more than professional in handling the obviously agitated woman.

Bain also testified that despite Smith being involved with a prior burglary case that Bain had been charged in, he and Smith had no ill-will between one another.

T.J. Smith leaves court after Tuesday's session.

Testifying that Smith was "aggressively leaning in, intimidating her (Stwalley)" just inches from her face, Bain said he called her a "scumbag" and worse. According to Bain, Stwalley "reacted in anger" to Smith's comments at which point the 37-year-old deputy forcibly restrained her to the ground and assumed a "mounting" position.

Bain said his point of view was partially obstructed and was unable to confirm or deny having seen Smith choke Stwalley as prior testimony from Deputy Phillip Troyer had suggested.

The woman had not been physical in any way prior to Smith pinning her to the ground, Bain told the court.

In opposition to prior testimony, Bain said he did not believe that Deputy Fenwick was in the process of arresting Stwalley.

He also denied seeing a second officer attempting to help Deputy Fenwick prior to Smith's involvement.

After Bain's testimony, the U.S. District Attorney's Office rested its case.

Shortly after 10 a.m., defense attorney John L. Tompkins called Putnam County Sheriff Steve Fenwick to the stand.

Regarding his involvement with the Sept. 7, 2012 incident involving Cletis Warren, wherein Smith is charged with unnecessarily punching Warren, Sheriff Fenwick testified he arrived about 10 minutes after "everything had happened" in the Warren pursuit and that Warren was already in handcuffs when he had arrived.

The sheriff further testified that in ascertaining what had happened, PCSD Sgt. Jon Chadd told him Warren had hit his head on the truck during the apprehension but that Smith spoke up immediately.

Sheriff Fenwick testified Wednesday in court that Smith said, "Hell, no, he didn't, I hit him in the head."

The sheriff denied the implication that he had told officers to falsify information on any report related to the incident.

Fenwick also denied being asked to investigate Deputy Smith and the Warren incident by Putnam County Judges Matt Headley or Denny Bridges.

Meanwhile, also testifying Wednesday morning was Special Deputy Tony Keith, who works with Van Bibber Lake Security and Putnamville Corrections. Keith was the first law enforcement official to tell the court that he did not believe Deputy Smith used excessive force in any instance he witnessed.

This story will be udpated following completion of the afternoon session of court.

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  • An accessory is a person who assists in the commission of a crime, but who does not actually participate in the commission of the crime as a joint principal. The distinction between an accessory and a principal is a question of fact and degree:

    The principal is the one whose acts or omissions, accompanied by the relevant mens rea (Latin for "guilty mind"), are the most immediate cause of the actus reus (Latin for "guilty act").

    If two or more people are directly responsible for the actus reus, they can be charged as joint principals (see common purpose). The test to distinguish a joint principal from an accessory is whether the defendant independently contributed to causing the actus reus rather than merely giving generalised and/or limited help and encouragement.

    -- Posted by Agent 007 on Wed, Sep 10, 2014, at 2:24 PM
  • Well, let's have a clarification of "Latin" used by Agent 007.

    "mens rea" actually means, "the mind is guilty".

    "actus reus" actually means, "criminal acts".

    I think the following Latin phrase best suits the PCSD, "QUOD VERUM EST, LATEAT QUAMVIS, ALIQUANDO PATEBIT" which means, 'That which is the Truth, however well it may be concealed, will at some time come to light'. Horace: Epistles, I.6.24

    Education is a wonderful thing. Too bad, Agent 007 needs more study.

    -- Posted by donantonioelsabio on Thu, Sep 11, 2014, at 9:05 PM
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