Attempted murder trial put off for those accused of running down Washington County deputy

Becky Campbell • Jan 4, 2013 at 9:18 PM

The attempted murder trial for three people accused of running down a Washington County sheriff’s deputy won’t go forward as scheduled Monday because of a missing state witness.

But as it turns out, the witness wasn’t missing at all. The man in question, Daniel Hylmon, was in custody at the Washington County Detention Center after he turned himself in Friday morning on a violation of probation charge.

Without that knowledge, Judge Jon Kerry Blackwood granted the state’s motion to continue the trial as well as a request from one defendant’s attorney for a lower bond.

Dalvin Stephens, 20; Reginald Dewayne Smith, 43; and Ashley Nicole McGraw, 19, all of Johnson City, 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 a Jan. 2, 2012, incident that started with an alleged robbery, led to a police pursuit and ended with Deputy Gary Daugherty being hit by the car driven by Stephens.

Prosecutors filed the motion to delay the trial on Thursday because they couldn’t find Hylmon. He is one of two alleged victims in the robbery that preceded the incident that seriously injured Daugherty.

According to what Assistant District Attorney Ken Baldwin told Blackwood, Hylmon has a violation of probation because of a dirty drug screen.

“He’s keeping low and he’s not to be found at this time,” Baldwin said.

Hylmon and another man, Eric McElyea, called 911 to report the alleged robbery and told police a black man — later identified as Smith — came to their residence on Sand Valley Road and asked to use the phone. When McElyea let Smith in, Smith pulled out a gun and demanded money and marijuana. He eventually left with neither, investigators said.

After sheriff’s deputies got a description of the vehicle Smith got into, an officer began a pursuit on Tenn. Highway 81 South. Daugherty was ahead of the pursuit and was attempting to throw out a stop strip. The strip got tangled and as Daugherty tried to straighten it, Stephens hit him. Prosecutors say Stephens veered toward Daugherty intentionally.

The officer is still out of work recovering from his injuries.

Only one defendant and his attorney attended the hearing. Gene Scott, who represents Smith, “adamantly” opposed the delay and wanted the trial to go forward even without the state’s witness.

In lieu of the trial going forward, Scott asked the judge to reduce his client’s $170,000 bond. Scott wanted an “own recognizance” bond, but Blackwood wouldn’t do that, and instead he lowered the amount to $75,000. Scott has previously said his client is “penniless” and can’t make a bond.

McGraw’s attorney, Assistant Public Defender Debbie Lonon, sent word that she did not oppose the state’s motion to continue the trial, but Smith’s attorney, Jerry Fabus, who was recently hired to replace Casey Sears, filed a written opposition to the state’s motion.

Baldwin told Blackwood that another issue involves District Attorney General Tony Clark, who is the lead prosecutor on the case. Baldwin said Clark hasn’t had time to prepare in the last few weeks because of a death and illness in his family.

Blackwood granted the state’s motion and reset the trial for March 4 through March 7.

All three defendants remain jailed while the case is pending. Stephens has a $200,000 bond and McGraw has a $75,000 bond.

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