Three charged with running down deputy to be tried together

Becky Campbell • Oct 11, 2012 at 9:43 PM

Three people charged with running down a Washington County sheriff’s deputy as he tried to throw out stop sticks as other officers pursued them will be tried together, a judge ruled Thursday.

Dalvin Stephens, 20, of Johnson City; Reginald Dewayne Smith, 43, 1419 Colony Park Drive; and Ashley Nicole McGraw, 19, 127 Forest Hills Drive, are charged with attempted first-degree murder and attempted aggravated robbery.

Smith faces additional charges of unlawful possession of a weapon and tampering with evidence. Stephens faces additional charges of reckless endangerment, evading arrest and leaving the scene of an accident with injuries.

The charges stem from an alleged robbery on Sand Valley Road that led to a pursuit of the suspect vehicle — later determined to be driven by Stephens — and the location on Tenn. Highway 81 S. where Stephens struck Deputy Gary Daughtery.

Investigators believe Stephens swerved to intentionally hit the officer.

Two attorneys in the case, Debbie Lonon, who represents McGraw; and Casey Sears, who represents Stephens, had filed motions asking Judge Jon Kerry Blackwood to separate the case so their clients could be tried separately and to separate the robbery and attempted murder charges into two trials.

Smith’s attorney, Gene Scott, told Blackwood he thought the defendants should be tried together.

Blackwood heard testimony from sheriff’s office Sgt. Sam Phillips Jr., about how the reported robbery incident led to the pursuit of the car Stephens drove. Phillips said the two incidents were directly related and a continuing incident.

Lonon’s primary issue with trying the three together hinged on a statement Phillips took from Stephens, McGraw’s boyfriend. In that statement, Stephens told the investigator that McGraw was yelling during the car chase and at one point told him to speed up and slow down.

“I hit the gas. Ashley was screaming, ‘I shouldn’t have come. Slow down. Speed up.’ ”

But Phillips testified he understood the comments were made during the pursuit as Stephens sped down Highway 81S around traffic and not in reference to the point when the car hit Daughtery.

Blackwood ruled the statement could be admitted in its entirety, but with Phillips’ explanation of when McGraw’s comments were made during the pursuit.

Blackwood also denied the motion to separate the attempted murder from the robbery charge. Sears had argued the two incidents were totally separate and that Stephens did not flee until a deputy got behind him and turned on blue lights.

Only one charge will be separated in the case, Blackwood ruled. That’s the charge on Smith of possession of a firearm by a convicted felon.

The three are scheduled for trial in January. Smith and Stephens remained jailed on $170,000 bonds each. McGraw is now free on $75,000 bond.

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