Tribune-Courier News Reporter
A mistrial was declared Thursday regarding the assault charge lodged against a former Benton city swimming pool manager for slapping his son.
Calloway County District Court Judge Randall Hutchins, who is presiding over the case as a special judge in the Marshall County Judicial Center, set a new trial Nov. 15 for Chris Harvey, 43, of Benton.
Harvey is charged with assaulting a minor, his son, who was 16 at the time. The incident occurred while Harvey was on duty as pool manager.
Hutchins declared the mistrial after Benton police officer Darryl Carr, the fifth witness to testify for the prosecution Thursday, testified about a discussion he had with the son of Chris Harvey on July 12, 2012, the day of the alleged assault.
Carr arrested Harvey after the conversation.
Harvey’s defense counsel, Jeremy Ian Smith, protested when Carr testified the juvenile said he had been abused by his father previously.
At that, point, Hutchins ruled a mistrial.
“I issued an order in this case about something that shouldn’t have come in, because I want you to decide whether or not the defendant on trial ... is guilty on the charge – not something he may or may have not done at some other time,” Hutchins said to the jury.
Harvey was fired from his position as pool manager after the incident. He is also a teacher at Benton Middle School, and has been reassigned to the school district office pending of the outcome of his trial.
Prior to Carr’s testimony, the jury heard from four other witnesses for special prosecutor Brandon Knoth. Pool patrons Cathy Maddox and Mary Gordon, pool manager Karly Watkins – who was a lifeguard at the time of the incident – and the alleged victim outlined what happened on July 12.
During his testimony, Carr said the teen had given him background information about what had happened at the pool that day, stating the teen told him that he and his father had gotten into an argument and that his father had slapped him.
“I asked him if this had happened before and he said at home,” Carr said. “This is what he told me specifically, that he had been emotionally and physically abused at home and I asked him what he meant by that.”
He was interrupted by a remark from Smith. Hutchins called Knoth and Smith to the bench and, after discussions, declared a mistrial.
A new jury will be selected to replace the six men chosen to hear Thursday’s trial.
Maddox, who works with Harvey’s wife at Marshall County Hospital, testified that she was at the scene of the incident and saw Harvey slap the victim.
“He hit him really hard,” Maddox said. “Open handed on the face.”
Smith cross-examined Maddox about inconsistencies between her testimony and her written statement at the time of the incident. Maddox said she didn’t have the space to write down everything that had happened.
After other questions from the defense attorney, Maddox stated she had a stroke following the incident. Smith said there were side effects of a stroke including memory loss and ended his cross examination.
Gordon, who was at the pool with her granddaughter, called the Marshall County Sheriff’s Dept. at the time of the incident. She testified she saw the teen lying on the floor in the fetal position while a man, who she could now identify as Harvey, was kicking the teen.
Watkins, the third witness, said she was working as a lifeguard the day of the incident and testified she had seen the teen spill the drink and the incident that followed.
She became aware of the incident by hearing a loud pop, she said in a written statement at the time of the incident.
“It was loud enough to catch my attention when I wasn’t necessarily paying attention to what was going on at that moment,” Watkins testified. “I was taking care of that customer so it was loud enough to catch my attention and think that something was definitely going on that probably shouldn’t have been that was a little concerning between a father and a son.”
The victim walked the jury through the incident and said there had been an argument between him and Jeff Carroll and that he refused to clean up the drink the teen had spilled.
The teen stated that there was only one true witness in the case who saw the event in its entirety and that was Carroll. He said his father slapped him, but said that he had been hit harder playing football and basketball. He said the incident was a scuffle, not a fight, and that his father had only slapped him one time.
Harvey, who had served as pool manager for 15 years prior to being terminated, has filed a civil suit in federal court for violation of constitutional rights at the time of his arrest by Carr.