03/09/10 — Former Cherry employee answering assault charge

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Former Cherry employee answering assault charge

By Nick Hiltunen
Published in News on March 9, 2010 1:46 PM

A former Cherry Hospital worker facing one count of felony abuse and neglect of a patient entered a plea of not guilty in Wayne County Superior Court Monday afternoon.

James Allan Smith, 34, of U.S. 13, Goldsboro, is accused of the physical abuse of Dean Smith, a patient at Cherry Hospital.

His case was to continue today with the selection of a jury.

The bill of indictment said the trial will determine whether Smith is guilty of "punching, kicking and striking ... that caused serious bodily injury to patient Dean Smith on Oct. 3, 2006."

Attorney Tom Sallenger is defending Smith.

Sallenger said he does not typically comment on matters of trial before they are finished.

"Jury selection has begun, the trial is ongoing," Sallenger said. "At this point in time, I do not believe it would be proper for me to comment on the facts and the circumstances of the case for the reason that the trial is in progress."

Judge Arnold O. Jones is presiding over the case. Jury selection was expected to continue this morning, starting at 9:30.

Assistant N.C. Attorney General Doug Thoren, who has represented the state in a number of recent matters involving Cherry Hospital, is acting as the prosecution in the case against Smith.

As in other cases involving sensitive patient information from Cherry Hospital, and at the request of the assistantattorney general, Jones has ordered that patient conditions and names not be released in media accounts.

Medical evidence relating to patients other than the victim in the trial and photographs or video of the jury or the victim have also been prohibited by court order.

Although the offense occurred in 2006, James Allan Smith was first arraigned on March 3, 2009 after a warrant was issued and served on Jan. 5, 2009.