"How stupid can you be to bring dope into the courthouse?"
That was the question asked by court officers on several levels in the Bedford County Courthouse on Thursday afternoon regarding Demorris Marcel Childress, a drug defendant who was found with what's believed to be crack cocaine in his pants.
Childress, 19, was brought in by bail bondsmen after failing to appear before a grand jury on the original drug charge and was charged again after the drugs were found on him in the courtroom.
Defendants are normally told to appear in court on such days, but sometimes they don't show up. It's virtually unheard of for someone to arrive in court with drugs in their pocket, according to James Farrar, owner of the bonding company that bears his name.
Bedford County Circuit Court Judge Robert Crigler had issued a bench warrant for Childress when it was clear he wasn't there for arraignment, so Farrar and Fish Fisher, another bondsman, went to the trailer park where Childress claimed he thought he was due in court next month, according to one of Farrar's bondsmen, Charles "Chuck" Koah.
Back in the courtroom, Koah had Childress on a front bench where the prisoner "kept saying he had to go to the bathroom," Koah said. "Nine times out of 10, when they ask that, I ask if they really have to go, or if they've got something to get rid of...
"He said 'no,'" he wasn't hiding anything, said Koah who didn't let Childress go to the restroom.
Once relieved of Childress' bond, Koah gave his prisoner to deputies and they searched him.
Deputy Guinn reported jailers found 15.8 grams of what's believed to be crack cocaine and about $395 cash in Childress' pockets.
Given an estimate of the street value of cocaine by the 17th Judicial District Drug Task Force, one might conclude that amount of crack could be worth nearly $16,000.
The grand jury also indicted Mark Robert Carter, 29, and Ellen Clair Sales, 43, with cattle rustling. Both are charged in connection with the theft of up to 27 head of cattle, mostly heifers, since early January last year. Sheriff Randall Boyce says more than $200,000 worth of personal property has been recovered.
Now indicted on theft charges, the tangled web of crimes related to those cases led Boyce, his detectives and deputies to Marshall, Moore, Williamson and other counties where they discovered related crimes. In one, a stolen pickup truck with a 100-gallon tank and pump was allegedly used to draw gasoline from truck stop tanks and other stations last year when prices approached $3 a gallon.
"That shows how effective law enforcement has been," District Attorney Chuck Crawford said after noting a higher than normal number of indictments returned by the grand jury Thursday. "I'm pleased to be part of the team."
Nearly two dozen defendants' cases were considered during the grand jury's monthly meeting. That's low compared to a metropolitan court docket that may have grand juries meeting more than once a week.
Indictment does not mean a defendant is guilty. Others indicted Thursday are as follows. Street addresses are named as their listed. Some defendants are in jail.
Howard Lee Bowen, 36, Bo Howell Road, habitual traffic offender.
James Robert Brown Jr., 42, Belmont Avenue, two cases of possession of illegal drugs for resale and/or with intent to deliver.
Shawn Kevin Chunn, 21, Sanders Street, possession of illegal drugs for sale and/or delivery.
Jason David Crawford, 27, Chapel Hill, habitual traffic offender.
Enoc Ruiz Cruz, 20, Murfreesboro, statutory rape.
Yolanda Evans, 36, possession and sale of illegal drugs with intent to deliver same.
Wesley Barrett Goodman, 26, no address listed, but he's being held in lieu of bond on four counts of statutory rape.
Andrew Shane Haggard, 21, Madison Street, sale and delivery of illegal drugs in two cases and simple possession in a third.
John Wesley Hays, 26, Ray Street, burglary, theft, forgery and fraudulent use of a credit card.
George Lucas Jernigan, 29, Germantown Road, aggravated statutory rape, driving on a suspended license and reckless driving.
Jerry William Jones, 29, Hill Street, five counts of aggravated sexual battery.
Corey Dwan Jordan, (also known as Frederick Abernathy), 26, Nashville, sale and delivery of illegal drugs.
Rhonda Phillips, 35, Manchester, theft.
Bruce Wayne Price Jr., 23, 1621 Warners Bridge Road, theft.
Ramiro Soliano, 20, Cedar River Road, three counts of statutory rape.
Phillip Tigue, 52, Estill Springs, three counts of theft and four counts of criminal impersonation.
Derrick Brandon Wells, 36, Frank Martin Road, sale and delivery of illegal drugs.