Defense brings forth witnesses on day eight

Published 6:12 pm Friday, June 5, 2015

Day eight of the federal trial between the U.S. government and three Decatur County Sheriff’s Office deputies and a former Grady County Sheriff’s Office deputy opened with the government announcing they had no more witnesses.

Defense attorney Charlie Cox made a motion for acquittal for his client, former GCSO deputy Wiley Griffin, IV, arguing he was innocent of any use of unreasonable or excessive force at Bikefest 2012. Cox argued force was within the means of the law.

Defense attorney Josh Bell also announced for acquittal for his client, DCSO captain Liz Croley, and argued the prosecutors expect the jury to pass judgment on bits and pieces of the Parrish trial without a full transcript at their disposal. Croley was federally charged with deprivation of rights under the color of law and false reporting.

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Defense attorney Tina Hunt made a motion for acquittal for her client, former DCSO deputy Robert Wade Umbach, who argued the prosecution has failed to prove Umbach “knowingly” provided false information to FBI special agent Steve McDermott. Hunt said McDermott already saw Umbach as a potential target and believed he would say Griffin, IV, was not involved in the incident.

Defense attorney Kermit Dorough made a motion for acquittal for DCSO deputy Christopher Kines. Dorough echoed Hunt’s argument, stating Kines was also a potential target in McDermott’s eyes. Dorough also stated there is no evidence that Griffin, IV, hit Parrish with a flashlight.

Government prosecutor Risa Berkower argued against all four acquittals, stating the prosecution has plenty of evidence to support the charges in the indictment filed against all four defendants.

U.S. District Court Judge W. Louis Sands spoke to all four defendants, reminding them of their right to testify. Kines, Umbach and Griffin, IV, said they would wait until after the defense’s other witnesses to make a final decision on taking the stand.

Croley waived her right to testify.

Don Green was brought to the stand first as a defense witness. Green was the owner of the camper where the altercation in question took place.

Green clarified the layout of the campsite and the process he took to set it up. Three videos were shown from Green’s campsite at Bikefest 2012, each focusing on the dance pole setup. Green confirmed a man in one of the videos was him.

Under cross-examination by Berkower, Green was asked to clarify which night the videos were taken. Green said he was not sure.

Bell called Dwayne Williams to the stand to testify next. Williams worked as security for the Bikefest staff at Bikefest 2012.

Williams said he did not see Parrish strike an officer. He said he saw both of Parrish’s hands, closed in fists, raised about shoulder height and Croley backing away.
After being shown photos of DCSO-issued vests, Williams confirmed Croley was wearing one on Sept. 15-16, 2012.

Government prosecutor Christine Siscaretti cross-examined Williams next. Williams said he was in the process of settling an unrelated dispute when he was led to Green’s campsite area. Williams said Parrish’s arms were back, Croley was backing up and three other male deputies responded by taking Parrish to the ground.

Bell called witness Macon Moore to the stand next. Moore, who was involved in Bikefest since 1999, was working security for Bikefest 2012. Moore was Georgia Post certified.
Moore said he saw Croley speaking to someone at the Green campsite. Before deputies brought Parrish to the ground, Moore said he was at arms-length from Parrish.

Under cross-examination from Berkower, Moore confirmed he worked part-time EMT for Gold Star. Moore said he had an extensive working relationship with Umbach, Croley and Kines, but does not know Griffin, IV, well.

Hunt called Wes McKenzie to the stand. McKenzie said Umbach attended church at Family Worship in Cairo, where McKenzie is a pastor. Mckenzie said he has known Umbach for six years.

Hunt asked if McKenzie had an opportunity to form an opinion on Umbach. McKenzie said Umbach is a caring, honest and truthful man.

“(Umbach has) a remarkable reputation of truth and honesty,” McKenzie said.

Hunt called South Georgia Judicial Circuit District Attorney Joe Mulholland to the stand next. Hunt asked Mulholland questions about former DCSO investigator and current Bainbridge Public Safety investigator Chip Nix.

“He is not a truthful person,” Mulholland said about Nix.

Under cross-examination by Berkower, a clip of a recording of a phone conversation between Mulholland and Nix from May 5, 2015, was played. Nix expressed he was paranoid about the upcoming federal trial, and said he was worried who would testify against him. Mulholland said he agreed one million percent immediately before the recording ended.

Steve Clark, a Grady County Sheriff’s Office captain, was brought to the stand next.

Clark said he did not trust government witness Vincent Edmond, who testified last Monday. Clark said his reason was because of an incident in Florida where Edmond lied about discharging his firearm.

Cox brought Julian Crowder to the stand next. It was confirmed Crowder is an “at will” employee with the DCSO.

When questioned about Nix, Crowder said, “I don’t feel that he is very truthful.”

Crowder said Decatur County Sheriff Wiley Griffin, III, is a friend. Crowder described the DCSO as “a big family.”

Crowder said he met with Griffin, III, the day before Grand Jury testimonies for this trial.

Siscaretti asked Crowder if he remembered what he told FBI special agent McDermott about what Griffin, III, asked him to do the previous day. Crowder said no.

Siscaretti asked if he told Griffin, III, what he saw at Grand Jury.

“I don’t recall,” Crowder answered.

Crowder said he had a conversation with Nix about what Nix saw at Bikefest 2012. When asked if Nix said he saw Griffin, IV, strike Parrish, Crowder said yes.

Under re-direct examination by Cox, Crowder confirmed his opinion on Nix’s truthfulness has not changed.

Trial will continue next Monday at 8 a.m. at the U.S. District Court in Albany.