Government Scores In Wildlife Refuge Case
Back in December I blogged about the results of the first trial arising from the Wheeler Wildlife Refuge sting operation. The case pitted the word of an undercover agent – Savannah, Ga. based Refuge Officer Greg Blanks – against that of the defendant, with the agent saying the defendant walked up to him and grabbed the agent’s crotch. The jury rejected the agent’s testimony and acquitted the defendant in about twenty minutes.
Well, they just finished another trial with the same undercover agent and the same allegations of unsolicited crotch-grabbing, and this time the defendant – prominent attorney Gary C. Huckaby – is guilty. The difference between the two? What do you know, another witness turned up:
Huckaby was charged with grabbing the crotch of refuge officer Greg Blanks, exposing and fondling himself. According to the testimony, Huckaby approached Blanks on the Beaver Dam Swamp Boardwalk Trail within the refuge.
An Alabama Department of Conservation & Natural Resources officer, Jerome Lowery of Decatur, testified that he watched the event from a hidden location through binoculars.
Gosh, why didn’t Ofc. Lowery testify in the first trial, I wonder?
Of course this doesn’t mean anything crooked occurred. It may well be that Lowery was not present when the first guy allegedly grabbed Blanks’ crotch, or if he was, he did not see it. Or maybe he did see it but the government was confident that Blanks’ testimony would be sufficient. But the defense sure seems to think something funny was going on:
Huckaby testified that he never touched Blanks and that Blanks fabricated the charges. Huckaby said he knew about the reputation of the refuge as a haven for people cruising for illicit sex and had read about law enforcement activities there. He said he wanted to scout the park to determine if it was suitable for a visit with his two preschool-age granddaughters.
The defense also tried to show that Lowery was mistaken or confused and indicated two separate locations where he watched Blanks and Huckaby on July 20.
It’s possible to convince a jury that one cop is lying – the first defendant managed to do it – but to convince them that two cops are lying? Not gonna happen. Especially not with a story like they offered in this case. They’d have done much better to just admit he was there looking for love, like the first guy did. Then you can argue that any contact was just an innocent mistake, without having to impugn the cops.
I’m guessing plenty of the remaining defendants will plead after hearing about this case.