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Attorney for accused in near-fatal crash wants officers kept out of court

August 29th, 2012 9:20 am by Becky Campbell

Attorney for accused in near-fatal crash wants officers kept out of court

The attorney for one of three people involved in a near-fatal collision when their vehicle struck a Washington County sheriff’s deputy in January wants a judge to tell the officer’s co-workers to stay away from the courthouse during his client’s hearings.
Dalvin Stephens, 18, of Johnson City; Reginald Dewayne Smith, 41, 1419 Colony Park Drive, and Ashley Nicole McGraw, 18, 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 attempted murder charge stems from injuries Washington County Deputy Gary Daughtery suffered Jan. 1 when he attempted to throw out a spike strip to help stop a car carrying robbery suspects.
Stephens was driving the car, and investigators believe he intentionally swerved to hit Daugherty.
Officers were trying to stop the car because the three were suspected of a home invasion attempted robbery just prior to the pursuit.
During all court hearings in the case, numerous sheriff’s office employees — most in uniform — have attended.
Attorney Casey Sears, who represents Stevens, wants Judge Jon Kerry Blackwood to prevent officers from attending hearings or even being in the courthouse.
“While we do not know the intent behind the large uniformed law enforcement presence in the courtroom, the defendant and his counsel are concerned that an excessive presence of uniformed law enforcement officers brings about an atmosphere of force and intimidation,” Sears wrote in a motion for a protective order for Stevens.
In the motion, Sears goes on to ask the court to “limit the number of uniform(ed) officers in the courtroom, the courthouse and the area surrounding the courthouse to only those officers that have necessary official business in these areas during the trial of this case.”
The trio of defendants are scheduled for a motions hearing today at 1 p.m.
In another matter concerning Stevens, the court on Aug. 8 signed an order for a mental evaluation to determine Stevens’ competency to stand trial, the mental condition at the time of the offense and if he has or had a mental disease that made him incapable of the mental state to commit the offense.
The three defendants remain jailed due to not making bond. Stephens has a $201,000 bond, Smith has a $170,000 bond and McGraw is being held on a $75,000 bond.
Daugherty is still recovering from his injuries and has not returned to duty.

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