McDermott wraps up testimony, more gov. witnesses speak on day six

Published 5:25 pm Wednesday, June 3, 2015

The sixth day of federal trial involving two Decatur County Sheriff’s Office deputies, a former DCSO deputy and a former Grady County Sheriff’s Office deputy continued with defense attorney Kermit Dorough cross-examining FBI special agent Steve McDermott.

Dorough presented excerpts by defendant Christopher Kines from the criminal trial of Aaron Parish, who was allegedly beaten by GCSO deputy Wiley Griffin, IV with a flashlight at Bikefest 2012.

Government prosecutor Risa Berkower held a re-direct examination, where she asked McDermott to define a 302.

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“A 302 is a summary of interviews or something we investigate,” the FBI special agent said.

McDermott said 302s contain pertinent details related to whatever matter is being investigated. They are written from notes and memory of interviews, he said. Berkower asked if a witness had told him who hit Parrish, if it would be included in the 302, to which McDermott said he would put it in.

McDermott then answered questions involving his interviews with Parrish and former DCSO investigator and current Bainbridge Public Safety investigator Chip Nix. He said he interviewed both witnesses at the BPS offices in August 2013, almost a year after the incident at Bikefest 2012. McDermott testified that Parrish and Nix were not treated differently from any other witnesses.

Berkower asked if McDermott warned defendant Kines, defendant Liz Croley and defendant Robert Wade Umbach during his initial interviews with them that they were targets of an investigation. McDermott said no.

Clips of interviews McDermott held with Kines, Croley and Umbach were played, during which all three defendants claimed Griffin, IV was not involved in the altercation that led to Parrish’s visit to the hospital later that night.

Defense attorney Tina Hunt asked McDermott why, out of the 60 witnesses he interviewed during the investigation, only Kines, Umbach and Croley were recorded. McDermott answered he recorded them because they were the subjects of the investigation, making clear they were not yet targets.

Dorough asked how many times McDermott met with Parrish. McDermott said three or four times, and a 302 was only filled out for the first interview. Dorough asked how many times he met with Nix, to which McDermott said five or six times. He didn’t recall how many 302s after the first he filled out.

Defense attorney Charlie Cox asked McDermott to clarify that not every detail from an interview is included in a 302, to which McDermott agreed.

Cox asked how he decided what details were pertinent. McDermott said it was based on notes and memory, including what’s pertinent to the subject. Cox asked if the notes were to jog McDermott’s memory, to which he said yes.

Government witness Norma McIntyre was next to take the stand. McIntyre was a volunteer security worker at Bikefest 2012 and said she witnessed parts of the incident on the night in question.

McIntyre said she and her husband, also a security volunteer, were looking for someone in the area of Don Green’s trailer, where the event of Parrish’s beating is said to have taken place.  She said she heard a commotion. Looking around, she said she saw one or two deputies helping a man up off the ground and sitting him down on a cooler. She said the man was wearing cuffs and had smudges on his face that were getting larger. She said she later realized it was blood.

Shortly after, she said Mike Green was having a discussion with his wife when another altercation occurred, resulting in Green hitting Croley in the chest. The incident ended with Green, Kines and Croley on the ground.

McIntyre later filled out a handwritten witness statement form with her husband at the DCSO. While writing the statement, she said she asked Croley for the name of the man with blood on his face, and she learned it was Parrish.

Dorough asked McIntyre if security workers were allowed to drink on the job at Bikefest, to which she answered no. He asked if McIntyre was 100 percent positive she saw someone his Croley in the chest. She answered yes.

Autumn Webster took the stand next. Webster, the Destin, Florida-based lawyer for Parrish, Green and Mark West, said Parrish had signed a written consent form for her to disclose information usually protected by attorney-client privileges.

Webster said that in preparation for Parrish’s criminal trial in February 2013, she never received witness statements from McIntyre or Nix. She said she contacted every witness she could, including deputies at the DCSO. Webster said she spoke with Umbach, who verbally summed up what was in his own witness statement from the night in question. After seeing McIntyre’s name in the original incident report, Webster said she attempted calling her, but her message was not returned.

During Parrish’s criminal trial, McIntyre was never called as a witness, Webster said. She also said Griffin, IV’s name was never mentioned during the trial.

Webster said in April 2014, more than a year after Parrish was found guilty, she received McIntyre’s written statement for the first time.

“It states someone other than Aaron (Parrish) committed the crime he was convicted of,” Webster said. “It would have been evidence to use at the trial.”

Webster said had she known about the witness statement, she would have made sure to talk to McIntyre prior to the trial and cross-examined Croley about her report.

Cox asked Webster to confirm she was the sister of Mark West, which she did, making her also related to Parrish.

Defense attorney Josh Bell questioned Webster’s pursuit to speak to McIntyre as a witness before Parrish’s criminal trial.

“Besides one call, you did absolutely nothing to talk to this person, correct?” Bell asked.

“Correct,” Webster responded.

Webster said she did not think of finding the DCSO to interview other witnesses the times she was in Bainbridge to work with Parrish. Instead, she said she spoke to them during various court dates before the trial.

Last to take the stand was South Georgia Judicial Circuit District Attorney Joe Mulholland, who briefly explained the circumstances leading up to him trying Parrish’s criminal case.

Mulholland said he was initially going to prosecute a murder case, but took Parrish’s case at the last moment.

Mulholland will continue testimony tomorrow morning at 8 a.m. at the U.S. District Court in Albany.