Former deputy’s appeal hearing delayed

The defense attorney for a former sheriff’s deputy appealing a misdemeanor batter conviction is asking to delay trial.

 

Eugene Watlington, 45, of Vilonia was convicted of third-degree battery for a May 2015 incident in which he kicked and stomped on a confidential informant.

An appeal trial was scheduled to take place at 9 a.m. Wednesday. However, Lee D. Short, who represents Watlington, filed a motion for continuance on Thursday.

“Counsel requests additional time to prepare for trial,” Short wrote in his motion filed last week. “[The] Defendant agrees to waive speedy trial for the period of continuance.”

As of press time Tuesday, a new trial date had not yet been set.

Watlington was convicted of third-degree battery in February.

Special Judge Mark Derrick of White County sentenced Watlington to 90 days in jail and issued a $1,090 fine.

Watlington was sentenced April 7. However, by appealing the misdemeanor conviction, the process was put on hold. Misdemeanor appeals give the defense the opportunity to a De Novo (second) trial in circuit court.

The battery charge stems from footage released from a Mayflower police officer’s body camera following a high-speed police chase May 4, 2015. The video showed Watlington and six other Faulkner County deputies surrounding Harvey Martin III after he was pulled from the white Ford Mustang the fled police.

Martin was the driver of the vehicle that fled police. He testified he was held at gunpoint by Christopher James Cummings to flee.

Derrick said during the sentencing hearing that he was bothered by Watlington’s reaction during Martin’s arrest.

“What bothered me the most?” Derrick asked rhetorically during the April 7 hearing. “You were not involved [in containing] Martin.”

Derrick noted that Watlington is seen yanking Martin from the white Ford Mustang he was driving when it came to a stop at the intersection of Clifton Street and Hairston Avenue. He also said it was not completely clear as to whether Watlington could see Martin was not resisting.

In the video, Martin is heard yelling: “Help me! Help me! I’m not resisting.”

 

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