McAlester News-Capital, McAlester, OK

Police/Courts

May 9, 2013

Trial defendant accuses law officials of crimes while testifying

McALESTER — A McAlester man who testified in his trial Wednesday accused multiple law officials of crimes — he accused police of executing a search warrant while drunk, he accused the judge of falsifying court records and he even accused his own lawyer of having false court transcripts.

While testifying in Pittsburg County District Court, George W. Pinkney, 55, also admitted to the felony crimes for which he was charged — felony possession of marijuana in the presence of a minor, felony possession of firearms after a former conviction of a felony, felony maintaining a place for keeping /selling a controlled substance and misdemeanor unlawful possession of drug paraphernalia.

After less than an hour of deliberation, the jury found Pinkney guilty of all four counts and recommended a prison sentence of eight years on the first count, two years on each of the second and third counts, and 30 days on the misdemeanor count.

Pinkney’s trial began Tuesday morning in District Judge Thomas Bartheld’s courtroom in Pittsburg County District Court. Prosecuting the case was District 18 Second Assistant District Attorney Justin “Chip” Garrett. Representing Pinkney was attorney Jeff Contreras.

According to testimony given at the trial, District 18 Narcotics Task Force officer executed a search warrant at Pinkney’s East Cherokee Avenue home on Sept. 2, 2011. Pinkney was standing outside the home on the porch when police arrived that day and inside the home were Pinkney’s two adult daughters, his 9-year-old son and his 2-year-old grandchild and another 1-year-old child.

After searching the home, according to testimony at the trial, police found marijuana in several places throughout the house, two firearms, a marijuana smoking pipe, rolling papers and digital scales.

When testifying Pinkney freely admitted to the jury that the items police found in his home were indeed his. Pinkney said his intentions in taking his case to trial were not to deny his own crimes. “I’m not here to defend myself,” Pinkney said. “I’m here to defend my family. I’m here for justice.”

Pinkney testified if he was going to have to go to prison for his crimes, he wanted the police to have to go to prison for their alleged crimes as well. Then while testifying, Pinkney alleged that many of the law enforcement officials who were at his home during the raid were under the influence of alcohol. He also testified that a police officer pointed a gun at his then 9-year-old son.

Pinkney’s emotions began to run high while testifying. At one point, Pinkney spoke about how he wanted the police investigated and charged with crimes. Pinkney said that in a preliminary hearing, Judge Bartheld said he would investigate into the actions of the police. Bartheld began shaking his head and immediately told Pinkney that what he was saying was not truthful and he needed to stop talking. “I am not an investigator,” Bartheld said. “There is a transcript of what was said during that preliminary hearing.”

Pinkney kept speaking even after the judge told him to stop. Pinkney said the transcripts were altered and the transcripts to which Judge Bartheld referred were falsified documents. Judge Bartheld looked at the court bailiff, raised his voice and told Pinkney not to say “one more word” or he “would go” to jail.

At this time, the judge dismissed the jury and Contreras asked for time to confer with his client. During that conversation, Pinkney reiterated his desire that if he goes to jail, he wanted the police to go to jail too. “They want me to go to jail cause I’ve committed a crime,” Pinkney told his attorney. “They (the police) committed a crime so they should go to jail too.”

During the course of the trial, Pinkney accused many people, including law enforcement officers, of committing crimes. He accused the officers who raided his home of being drunk and pointing loaded firearms at his young son. He accused his attorney own attorney and Judge Bartheld of having falsified court documents. He accused law enforcement officers of raiding his home without a search warrant. He even accused the police of smoking the marijuana that was collected as evidence from his home.

Pinkney said he did have marijuana in the house when the police executed the search warrant, but the marijuana that was shown to the jury during the course of the trial was not his. “I had about 40 grams of marijuana,” Pinkney said. “I didn’t have as much as they showed in the court room. The way I figure it, they (the police) smoke marijuana too and they replaced my (marijuana) with some home grown stuff.”

Pinkney testified that he had a gun in the home. “I did have a gun. I’m sorry and I’m very remorseful. I know I’m a felon and shouldn’t have had that gun and I’m sorry. I don’t want to go to jail. My wife died in a car accident and I’m all my son has left. But I should say sorry and be forgiven just like officer Kennon said sorry for his crime and has had no repercussions.”

During his testimony, former Pittsburg County Sheriff Deputy Jeremy Kennon testified that on the night of the raid, he had been at a family function and had a couple sips of his wife’s margarita. Kennon testified that the two sips of alcoholic beverage he consumed did not affect his ability to perform his duties during the raid. Kennon testified that he would not have taken those two sips of alcohol if he knew he would be performing his duties as a law enforcement officer later. He testified that he received a text message, informing him of the raid, after he took the sips of alcohol. He also testified that he was sorry for making that mistake.

Three other law enforcement officers testified. They all testified that they had not drank alcohol prior to the raid on Pinkney’s home and they all testified that they did not point a gun at Pinkney’s then 9-year-old son. They also all testified that Kennon performed his duties on the night of the raid and did not exhibit signs of being under the influence of alcohol.

Pinkney’s family members also testified during the trial. Pinkney’s two sisters had arrived on the scene of the raid after police had already entered Pinkney’s home. Pinkney’s two sisters, two adult daughters and son all testified that the law enforcement officers who raided Pinkney’s home smelled of alcohol. Pinkney’s two daughters also testified that a law enforcement officer pointed a gun at their brother and ordered him to the ground. They also testified that police took money from their purses and never returned that money. Both women testified that they tried to get their money back from the District 18 District Attorney’s office. They had a different excuse every time, one of Pinkney’s daughters said. “They were just telling us lies.”

A short time later, assistant district attorney Garrett provided evidence documentation to the jury that the money, taken from Pinkney’s daughter’s purses during the raid, was returned to them on July 30.

Pinkney’s two sisters also testified. They both testified that law enforcement officers who executed the search warrant on Pinkney’s home smelled of alcohol. When asked by Pinkney’s attorney if her testimony was truthful and if anyone had asked her to lie, one of Pinkney’s sisters said, “Contreras told me to lie.”

Pinkney’s attorney, Contreras, said, “That’s not true,” during a break from the hearing, Contreras told the News-Capital that he would never tell anyone to lie on the stand. He said he values his career and values the law and would never jeopardize either. Also while testifying, Pinkney’s sister was asked to point out a law enforcement officer Shawn Delana in the courtroom. Delana was in the courtroom, within 10 feet of the women. But she looked into the audience in the courtroom and pointed to local attorney Ronnie May, who was present in the courtroom representing another client, in another case.

When the jury was on break, Contreras requested to removed as Pinkney’s counsel. “My client’s sister accused me earlier of asking her to lie,” Contreras said. “My client has testified that I have falsified transcripts of previous hearings. Twice now I’ve been accused by my client or his family of committing crimes.” Contreras asked for the sake of his honor and integrity, to be allowed to withdraw as Pinkney’s counsel. When Judge Bartheld asked Pinkney what he wanted. He said he had no choice but to keep Contreras as his lawyer. The assistant district attorney also requested to continue with the trial and asked that Contreras remain as defense counsel.

Pinkney then had a near unintelligible emotional outburst in the courtroom. He began crying, and yelling, and banging his fists and feet. At one point he began speaking about being mistreated by the police in 1977 — he pulled the sleeve of his shirt up on one arm and said he had been shot. “They beat my family like they’re dogs,” he wailed. “I’ll go to prison. I’m tired. I’m tired,” he screamed. Then he wailed and screamed and cried some more, beat on the table and then laid down on the table. The courtroom was silent and for about five minutes, Pinkney laid on the table while those in the courtroom just watched him. When Pinkney stood back up, Judge Bartheld said to Contreras, “With all due respect, your motion (to withdraw as counsel) is denied. We’re going to finish this.”

Bartheld also said that Pinkney had his say. “This is all on the record,” Bartheld said. “I believe Mr. Pinkney has had his say.” Pinkney then asked Bartheld, “Can’t there be an investigation?”

“I can’t order an investigation,” Bartheld said. “I’m not a police officer.” Bartheld said the police were not on trial in his courtroom. He said Pinkney was on trial and that was the case his was presiding over.

When the trial was complete, and the jury left to deliberate, they were gone less than an hour. And regardless of Pinkney’s vast accusations of crimes he alleged the police, the judge and his own attorney committed, the jury still found him guilty. Before leaving the courtroom, Pinkney asked if he could hug his son before being taken away in handcuffs. Pinkney hugged his son, now 11 years old, and he had tears streaking down his face as his father left the courtroom in handcuffs and with a police escort.

Contact Rachel Petersen at rpetersen@mcalesternews.com.

For more on this story, see the print or electronic editions of the McAlester News-Capital. Click here for print edition home delivery or click here to see the Smart Edition for your computer, tablet, e-reader or smart phone.

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