03/11/10 — Jury out deliberating in Cherry beating trial

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Jury out deliberating in Cherry beating trial

By Nick Hiltunen
Published in News on March 11, 2010 1:46 PM

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James "Allan" Smith, 34, accused of dragging a Cherry Hospital patient into a bathroom and beating him, takes the witness stand in Wayne County Superior Court on Wednesday.

A former Cherry Hospital worker took the stand in his own defense Wednesday in Wayne County Superior Court against accusations of beating a patient.

A jury began deliberations of the charged against James "Allan" Smith, 34, about 4:30 p.m. Thursday, and deliberated until 5 p.m. They are expected to continue evaluating the case this morning.

Smith's defense, 34, was based on accusing Billy Wynn, another Cherry Hospital health technician, of having beaten the patient, Dean Smith.

In a dramatic exchange with his defense attorney, the defendant, James Smith grabbed the microphone and leaned forward into it to speak.

"Were you any part of what Billy Wynn did?" Tom Sallenger asked James Smith.

Grabbing the microphone, Smith said loudly, "No, sir."

Smith continued his testimony, a denial of playing any part in the injuries that the patient sustained.

"I was shocked, that's all I can say, I was shocked. I promise, that I did not know" what he alleged the other health technician did.

Pictures of the patient offered by the defense showed a man with very visible wounds after the beating, an entire side of his face inflamed in red with large purple splotches of bruising.

Assistant N.C. Attorney General Doug Thoren, who is prosecuting the case, said during his closing statement that the patient's ribs and nose were also broken in the assault.

The alleged incident the trial concerns took place on Oct. 3, 2006.

Smith, the victim, testified that he is a Type I bipolar patient who was having a bad morning. He admitted he was agitated and confrontational with patients and staff alike that day.

There are two defendants charged in the case, James "Allan" Smith and co-worker Eric Jerrod Isler.

Both were working as health technicians in wards where they did not typically work.

They first came into contact with the patient when he argued with an ex-Marine Corps. officer who spent time at the hospital.

The ex-Marine was involved in an emotional phone call, and patient Dean Smith admitted on the stand that he began bothering the man.

That led to a first physical incident with James "Allan" Smith.

During that incident, Dean Smith testified he kicked the defendant, James Smith, in the groin.

After the groin kick, the patient was walking down the hallway. The defendant and another witness said that James "Allan" Smith tackled the patient.

Then, the patient alleges that Isler and Smith, the two Cherry workers, dragged him to a bathroom and inflicted a severe beating on him, including both kicks and punches.

The ex-Marine, who testified that he was bribed with cigarettes and soda by Smith and Isler to take the blame for the beating, said he heard a beating from the bathroom that lasted about two to three minutes.

Deliberations continued at 9:30 a.m. today and juror were still sequestered a half-hour later. Judge Arnold Jones has ordered that the identities of other patients who were called as witnesses be withheld.