Assault suspect awaits jury’s ruling
by Wes Mayer
A jury was still deliberating late Thursday in the trial of Dallas Edward Smith, 40, who faces seven charges for his arrest on June 3.
Closing statements were given by the attorneys earlier in the day.
At the conclusion of the closing statements, Coweta Superior Court Judge Dennis Blackmon presented the charges to the jury — aggravated assault with hands, feet, or fists for holding the victim’s head underwater; aggravated assault with intent to rape and attempt to commit rape for what was recorded on the 911 tapes; battery for performing finger locks on the victim; obstruction of an officer for attempting to fight Coweta Sheriff’s Office Sgt. Jeff Bugg; aggravated cruelty to an animal for crushing a kitten and killing it; and cruelty to an animal for throwing a kitten into the air and injuring it.
The jury appeared to be at an impasse on the charge of obstruction, unclear of its definition or whether it applied to the case.
On the day of Smith’s arrest, the victim dialed 911, pressed send and placed the phone on the floor. Over the phone, the 911 operator could hear a woman screaming and a man laughing and giving threats to her. The call was given out to nearby sheriff’s office patrol units.
Within 10 minutes, Sgt. Bugg responded to the call along Wynn Road. When he got out of his vehicle, Bugg could hear screaming from the home at 78 Wynn Road, and he found Smith lying on top of the victim, who was nude. According to Bugg, Smith was commanded to get off the victim, but when he did, he turned and raised his fists to fight. Bugg fired the barbs of his electric stun gun into Smith, but had to additionally strike and drive stun Smith to subdue him and place him in handcuffs.
The victim accused Smith of throwing a 4-week-old kitten into the air earlier that day. The kitten was thrown as high as the house, and Smith did not catch it. The kitten did walk away, but appeared to be injured.
On Wednesday, the prosecution, led by Coweta County Assistant District Attorney John Herbert Cranford, brought three witnesses to the stand — the victim, Bugg and Coweta County Investigator Kyle Vaughn. Smith, represented by Defense Attorney Jerry Pittman, then took the stand to testify in his own defense.
The victim was first questioned by Cranford. She told the court about her romantic relationship with Smith, how the relationship became abusive during intercourse, and how he enjoyed causing pain to her. When she refused to have sex with him, he would become more aggressive until she gave in. The victim also recounted how Smith was violent to animals.
When Bugg took the stand, he recounted his response to the 911 call and his arrest of Smith. The 911 call was recorded, and the 18-minute audio tape was played for the jury. Vaughn, who investigated the scene and interviewed Smith in the sheriff’s office, introduced the hour-and-a-half-long interview tape, which was also played in its entirety for the jury.
Smith took the stand, was questioned by Pittman and told a different story. He denied killing any kittens, and testified that the one that did die was the runt of the litter and died of natural causes. On the day of his arrest, Smith testified, he was not attempting to rape the victim and they were only horsing around.
Smith said that when Bugg entered his home, Bugg did not make it clear he was an officer, and startled Smith. Before Smith could react, he was tased, hit and placed in handcuffs, he testified. Smith admitted to performing finger locks to the victim, but claimed he was not guilty of the other charges.
In the closing statements, Cranford told members of the jury it was up to them to set the standard for abuse in this county. It was up to the jury to decide the difference between horsing around and torture. Cranford said this case was about protecting women like the victim from men like Smith who think pain and suffering is a game.
Pittman asked the jury to look at the evidence one more time. He said they don’t have to like his client or approve of Smith’s lifestyle, but in every charge — except battery — there existed a lack of evidence that could bring some doubt. He asked the jury not to throw away their common sense, and if they have any doubt, to rule Smith not guilty on all the charges.