Deal pending after alleged threats to deputies

Attorney cites erasure of video evidence in case

By Gary Abernathy - [email protected]



A hearing on a motion to dismiss a felony case against a village of Highland man after he allegedly threatened Highland County sheriff’s deputies was postponed Wednesday pending an apparent plea agreement.

Joseph M. Scott was arrested last June after sheriff’s deputies were called to Highland on a report that Scott was threatening a local family.

According to an affidavit in the case, when Scott was arrested, he “became belligerent and attempted to pull away.” He allegedly told deputies “he would get us and for us to wait until he found us on the street.”

Scott allegedly refused to be placed into a cruiser and had to be forced inside. “We had to return to my patrol car twice to keep (Scott) from kicking the back seat windows the first time, and hitting the back seat windows with his head the second time,” according to a deputy’s affidavit.

Then, during transportation to the Highland County Justice Center, Scott “stated to me multiple times that he would get me on the streets, that I had started a war,” and that he would have someone “come take care of me and shoot me,” according to the affidavit.

After arriving at the jail, Scott “remained belligerent” and warned another deputy “not to get added to his list like myself and the other guy out there,” according to the affidavit.

Scott was originally charged with physical control, possession of marijuana, assault, aggravated burglary, aggravated menacing, resisting arrest and two counts of retaliation, according to the affidavit.

Eventually, Scott was charged with intimidation, a third-degree felony.

His attorney, J.D. Wagoner, on Oct. 31 filed a motion to dismiss the case. That motion states that “on August 18, 2016, counsel for Mr. Scott filed for discovery in the case and on September 30, 2016, counsel filed for all audio and video evidence associated with the arrest and booking of Mr. Scott.”

Wagoner stated that he was told by sheriff’s officials that “due to the alleged violent conduct that the video would be flagged and not recorded over,” but after filing a subpoena for the video evidence, Wagoner “was informed on October 25, 2016 that it no longer existed.”

In his motion to dismiss, Wagoner argued that “the failure to preserve materially exculpatory evidence violates a defendant’s due process under the Fourteenth Amendment…” adding that he “finds it incredible that such an erasure has occurred.”

On Wednesday, Anneka Collins, the county prosecutor, said she was informed that Wagoner had reached an agreement with the sheriff’s office – including both deputies involved in the arrest – for his client to plead guilty to a fourth-degree felony charge of attempted intimidation and receive probation, with 18 months of jail time to be served if he violates probation. Collins said she agreed with the deal, and a hearing will be held next Wednesday to make it official.

According to a Records Retention Schedule filed by the sheriff’s office, surveillance records in the sheriff’s booking room should be kept for one year. But Collins said that the video of Scott’s arrest was apparently “looped over” and no longer exists.

Sheriff Donnie Barrera said Thursday he did not want to comment until the plea agreement is finalized.

Reach Gary Abernathy at 937-393-3456 or on Twitter @abernathygary.

Attorney cites erasure of video evidence in case

By Gary Abernathy

[email protected]