Mulholland testifies on Parrish trial during day seven

Published 6:03 pm Thursday, June 4, 2015

Day seven of the federal trial of three Decatur County Sheriff’s Office deputies and a former Grady County Sheriff’s Office deputy accused of use of excessive force and an ensuing cover-up continued Thursday with South Georgia Judicial Circuit District Attorney Joe Mulholland taking the stand.

Under direct examination by government prosecutor Christine Siscaretti, Mulholland was asked if he reviewed the case file for Aaron Parish’s criminal trial before prosecuting him in February 2013.

Mulholland made clear his office has an “open file policy,” meaning the defense receives everything located in a file without question. He agreed that his office policy was “broad.”

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Siscaretti asked Mulholland to state Parish’s charges stemming from an incident at Bikefest 2012, which he said were obstruction of an officer and attempting to take an officer’s gun. Siscaretti asked if one of the allegations occurred from Parrish hitting DCSO captain Liz Croley in the chest, as stated in the original incident report.

Mulholland said it was the entire fight between Croley and the other officers that led to Parrish being charged with obstruction of an officer.

Siscaretti asked Mulholland to explain how witnesses are chosen. Mulholland said his office receives a case file, compiles the witness list and then makes decisions on who needs to be subpoenaed. Mulholland also said he did not have a witness statement from Norma McIntyre in the case file he reviewed. McIntyre’s witness statement said she saw Mike Green hit Croley in the chest.

A copy of the incident report detailing Parrish’s altercation on Saturday, Sept. 16, with DCSO deputies was displayed. Mulholland said Croley prepared the report that following week. The report stated witness McIntyre saw Parrish strike Croley in the chest.

Siscaretti asked why McIntyre never took the stand at Parrish’s criminal trial. Mulholland said Parrish didn’t take the stand, so there was no reason to call McIntyre for a rebuttal. Mulholland said Croley never gave him additional information about what she saw.

“When did you receive Norma’s statement?” Siscaretti asked.

“I received the document from you,” Mulholland said, continuing to say he saw it in November 2014. “I immediately turned it over to Autumn Webster.”

Webster, Parrish’s attorney, testified Wednesday how she never saw McIntyre’s witness statement until more than a year after Parrish’s trial.

“Why did you want Webster to get it?” Siscaretti asked.

Mulholland answered because his office had an open file policy.

Mulholland then testified that the incident report, written by Croley, read that McIntyre witnessed Parrish hit Croley in the chest.

Siscaretti then showed McIntyre’s witness statement, with Croley’s approval signature, that stated Green hit Croley in the chest.

“Is there anything in those lines saying Parrish hit Croley?”

Mulholland said not in McIntyre’s statement.

Siscaretti asked Mulholland to confirm the information in Croley’s incident report was different from McIntyre’s witness statement.

Mulholland stated if the two documents were compared, he would consider it impeachment by omission, meaning McIntyre’s statement could have been used to impeach Croley at Parrish’s trial.

“Is the impeachment information helpful to the defendant (Parrish)?” Siscaretti asked.

“Yes, ma’am,” Mulholland answered.

“It also says someone else committed the crime, correct?” Siscaretti asked.

“Yes,” Mulholland said.

Siscaretti asked if Croley ever mentioned the statement to Mulholland, who said no. Siscaretti asked if Croley ever told him that McIntyre said Green punched her. Mulholland said no.

Defense attorney Tina Hunt cross-examined Mulholland, asking him if Former DCSO investigator and current Bainbridge Public Safety Investigator Chip Nix had said anything about the case to him prior to the Parrish trial, to which Mulholland said Nix hadn’t told him anything.

Defense attorney Josh Bell asked if case files Mulholland’s office receives always include copies of warrants. Mulholland said not necessarily, and he said he didn’t remember if Parrish’s warrant was in the case file. Bell asked if there was anything in the file mentioning defendant Wiley Griffin, IV, to which Mulholland answered no.

On redirect examination, Siscaretti asked Mulholland if he provided substantial factual allegations in the indictment for Parrish. Mulholland said of course, stating Parrish knowingly and willfully resisted arrest and did do violence to Croley.

Government witness Michael Wayne Redden was called to the stand next. Redden currently works as a patrol lieutenant and a department trainer at the Cairo Police Department. He trained defendant Griffin, IV on how to use force as a police officer, he said.

Griffin, IV was present in Redden’s Use of Force class on Aug. 12, 2012. At the time, Griffin, IV worked as a deputy at the GCSO.

Siscaretti asked Redden to confirm a wide range of subjects covered during the class, including when excessive force should be used, violations of civil rights and tactics officers should resort to when excessive force is needed.

“Is a flashlight one of them?” Siscaretti asked.

Redden said no. Siscaretti asked if striking a civilian in the head was something Griffin, IV was taught in his class. Redden again said no.

On cross-examination by defense attorney Charlie Cox, Redden said there were roughly 15-20 total students in his Use of Force class that day.

Redden confirmed for Cox that when officers evaluate whether use of force was needed or not during an incident, it is determined from what the officer knew on scene, not 20/20 hindsight.

Former DCSO deputy chief Jim Morris was next to testify. Morris said he works as a part time employee at the DCSO, and was working at Bikefest on the night in question in 2012.

Morris stated he helped write the DCSO policy manual. Siscaretti asked if in Sept. 2012, the DCSO’s policy was to document any injuries done to a civilian, to which Morris said yes.

Morris said on Sept. 15, 2012, he was working with DCSO deputy chief Wendell Cofer, who had taken Morris’s job after he retired. Morris was showing Cofer how security worked at Bikefest. The majority of his night was spent at the mobile command center, Morris said.

Morris testified that he remembered three subjects being brought back to the command center by Croley and defendant Christopher Kines late that night. One of them, Morris said, had damages to his eye with blood trickling down his face. Another person had a banged up nose, he said.

Morris said the man with the swollen eye was calm for the most part, and saying how he didn’t appreciate getting beaten by law enforcement. He said Croley was not acting out of the ordinary and she was trying to control the situation. Morris said he heard Croley tell the men to leave and return to the DCSO Monday morning for interviews.

“I interjected and told her we needed to photograph injuries and get names of witnesses,” Morris testified.

A photo Morris took of Parrish’s face that night was put on display. Morris said that when he asked Kines what happened, Kines smiled and walked away without answering.

Morris said that early that following week, he was told by Croley, Cofer and Decatur County Sheriff Wiley Griffin, III in a conference room what Parrish was being charged with.

Bell was first to cross-examine Morris and asked if the DCSO policy he had written required officers who witnessed any use of force needed to report it. Morris said yes.

During cross-examination by defense attorney Kermit Dorough, Morris was asked if the subjects appeared intoxicated when brought to the command center. Morris said yes. Dorough asked Morris to confirm if during the time Parrish was at the command center, an EMT examined his injuries. Morris said he did not see that.

U.S. District Judge W. Louis Sands suspended testimony of Morris to bring a defense witness on the stand: Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosive special agent Jeff Reed.

Under direct examination by Hunt, Reed was asked how long he knew Nix. Reed said since sometime between 2004-2006.

“Have you had an opportunity to form an opinion (on him)?” Hunt said.

Reed stated yes, and that he did not trust Nix. Hunt asked if Reed had an opportunity to talk with others in the law enforcement community about Nix. Reed said in his circles, the consensus is Nix is not truthful.

During cross-examination by government prosecutor Risa Berkower, Reed was asked if it was true that he avoids Bainbridge. Reed said yes. Berkower asked if he avoids Decatur County, to which Reed said yes. Berkower asked if Reed knew any other representatives in the Bainbridge-Decatur County area. Reed answered no.

Trial will continue tomorrow morning at 8 a.m. at the U.S. District Court in Albany. Sands confirmed the trial will also continue to next week.