Unicoi Co. video fight: Mother gets plea deal, charges dropped for 2

Brad Hicks • May 15, 2014 at 2:12 PM

ERWIN — Charges against two of the three adults charged for allegedly being present at a recorded fight between two female juveniles were dismissed, and the third adult received a probationary sentence after entering a plea agreement at a Thursday hearing in Unicoi County General Sessions Court.

Amanda Rana Shelton, 1782 Tenn. Highway 352, Flag Pond, entered a best interest plea to the charge of contributing to the delinquency of a minor. Her attorney, David Crockett, said he had spoken at length with his client about the plea agreement, and she decided to enter the best interest plea rather than risk going to trial, as she is the only caregiver to her daughter.

Shelton was arrested on March 20 by officials with the Unicoi County Sheriff's Department, two days after authorities said a video of two 13-year-old girls fighting was brought to their attention. Unicoi County Sheriff Mike Hensley previously said one of the girls involved in the fight had posted a video of the fight to her Facebook account.

Shelton was charged with contributing to the delinquency of a minor and criminal trespassing.

Shelton is the mother of one of the girls involved. Police officials previously said she failed to intervene in the altercation and directed her daughter on what to do during the fight. Crockett told Sessions Court Judge David Shults that Shelton was present when the fight between her daughter and another girl broke out at the old Flag Pond School, but they went to this location with no intention of fighting and were only there to play ball.

"Contrary to what the state claims, she did not promote or set this up," Crockett said. "This is something that her daughter had been challenged to do several times."

Crockett also said Shelton's daughter had been bullied by the other girl involved in the fight prior to the fight taking place.

"This fight was the culmination of this child responding to the repeated challenges of this girl," Crockett said.

But Crockett said Shelton would admit that she encouraged her daughter in fight once it began. For her plea, Shelton received 11 months 29 days probation. Her criminal trespassing charge was dismissed Thursday.

David Grant Shelton, 6194 Highway 212, Marshall, N.C., was arrested on March 21 for allegedly also being present at the fight and failing to intervene. Jarid Engle Briggs, 118, Briggs Lane, Flag Pond, was arrested on March 25. Police officials previously said they received statements that Briggs witnessed the fight and may have filmed it with the phone of one of the girls involved. Both were charged with contributing to the delinquency of a minor and criminal trespassing.

The charges against both David Shelton and Briggs were dismissed on Thursday. Crockett, who also represented David Shelton, said David Shelton did not was present at the old school to play ball but did not participate in the fight. Attorney Richard Spivey, who represented Briggs, also said his client was not involved.

Assistant District Attorney General Ryan Curtis said the limitations of the video evidence led to the dismissal of the charges against David Shelton and Briggs.

"When everybody was here and we were reviewing the video, it became apparent that, given the limitations we had with Facebook video and so many people charged that something incriminates them so they can just plead the Fifth, it left us with just what's on the Facebook video which is two kids fighting and Ms. Shelton stepping in and yelling some stuff and yelling some stuff in the course of the fight," Curtis said following the hearing. "So the other two guys were present, but I don't think they were in the vicinity of the fight, though the video did show males that we believe to be one of them."

Curtis also said there was bullying in the case, although he said he was not privy enough to say which child was the victim of the bullying.

"I will say there was bullying in this case before this fight," he said. "This wasn't just a mom taking her kid to fight somebody. There was bullying."

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