By John L. Ross
By John L. Ross
It’s not over with yet.
Nearly three years after former Whitley County jailer Lloyd Davenport was arrested for suspicion of driving under the influence, a jury trial to face those DUI charges was slated for Wednesday.
Davenport’s case was actually first on the docket for Whitley County District Court, which was scheduled to begin hearing cases at 9 a.m. Wednesday.
That time came, and went.
A minute or two after 9, Davenport’s attorney, Jane Butcher, came into the courtroom. As she was placing her files down on the attorney table, Whitley County Circuit Court Clerk Gary Barton emerged from the chambers area into the courtroom, and asked for “Ms. Butcher.”
When she looked, Barton motioned for her to come with him. “We’re going to discuss your case first,” he said to her.
Then Butcher gathered her files, and went with Barton back to Judge Fred White’s chambers.
More time passed. Then at 9:10, Barton re-emerged into the courtroom and stood behind the judge’s chair at the bench. “The judges and attorneys (are) making motions in chambers,” Barton announced to the courtroom. “And that will (take) about 10 or 15 minutes.”
The courtroom buzzed with chatter. Williamsburg Police Chief Wayne Bird was in the courtroom waiting, as was Officer Brandon White, who arrested Davenport. Other Williamsburg Police personnel were also on hand in the courtroom.
Fifteen minutes after the announcement about motions being made in chambers, both Barton and Butcher emerged from the chambers area.
Judge White soon followed, and court began.
But Davenport’s case was never called forward.
Davenport himself was in the back of the courtroom gallery briefly.
An hour passed from that point, and the Williamsburg Police Department personnel were still in the courtroom, as was Butcher.
Chief Bird briefly left the courtroom, and when he returned the officers then left. Butcher soon followed.
Although the reason why wasn’t clear, Davenport’s case was continued for a jury trial 9 a.m. April 4.
An attempt to contact Barton was made, but he had apparently left early from work due to illness.
A call was made to Special Prosecutor Allen Trimble’s office, who was never seen in the courtroom Wednesday. It was learned Trimble would not be available for comment Wednesday or today.
Wednesday’s jury trial was continued from Feb. 6 — on that day the arresting officer, White, was unavailable due to an illness in the family.
Otherwise, White has attended every scheduled court appearance during this almost three-year case. “This case has been continued numerous times and (White) has been there every single time until (last month),” Chief Bird said in February.
Prior to that, the case was scheduled for trial Aug. 8, 2012. However, that trial had to be continued as Trimble’s wife happened to be on the jury panel. At that time, Trimble hoped the case would be scheduled for trial possibly in October 2012, but it was unclear when that would happen.
Before that, Davenport was to appear for a jury trial on April 4, 2012. But after a discussion between Judge White, Butcher and Trimble, the trial was continued.
Prior to that, the scheduled trial date was Dec. 7, 2011, but court records state then-county attorney Don Moses had recused himself from the case. Judge White ordered Davenport’s case dismissed. Court records state evidence had not been received by Davenport’s attorney.
Trimble, who had been named special prosecutor, filed motions which showed that was not correct — and the case was reinstated. Trimble was appointed special prosecutor by the state Attorney General’s Office on the request of Officer White and Bird.
On May 9, 2010, Officer White pulled over Davenport for a traffic stop on Beck’s Creek Road after alleged complaints about his driving were received.
Prior to that stop, White reported that he observed Davenport driving slowly and crossing into opposing lanes of traffic.
White approached the vehicle, and according to his citation, there was “a strong smell” of alcohol and Davenport had “red, glossy, bloodshot eyes.”
Field sobriety tests were conducted, which Davenport failed, according to the citation. That same citation states that Davenport told White “he would blow over the limit” if he took a breathalyzer test, which he ultimately refused to do.
Bird said normal procedure was to suspend a person’s driver license after that type of refusal — but added that did not happen in this case.
According to Bird, Davenport was booked at 12:23 a.m. May 10, 2010.
Thirty-four minutes later, Davenport left the jail on a $2,500 surety bond.
At the time of his arrest, Davenport was a Whitley County jailer and, according to records at the county clerk’s office, had a bond at that time as a special, unpaid deputy for former Whitley County Sheriff Lawrence Hodge.
Hodge remains jailed in federal prison for money laundering, extortion and drug distribution. He was sentenced to 15 and a half years for those crimes.
“In all my 18 years of law enforcement, of being in courtrooms all over, I have never, ever seen a case drug out this long,” Bird said Wednesday.