Greene County Sheriff candidate Luke Lamb was found not guilty of unlawful communication with a juror in Greene County Court this afternoon.
On the final day of a two-day trial, jurors discussed the case for several hours before reaching a verdict. The Class Four felony charged against Lamb stemmed from an allegation that Lamb tried to get jury member Mark Boston to “vote not guilty” and “hang the jury if necessary” on a Greene County Court case.
Greene County Sheriff Rob McMillen was one of several people called to the stand yesterday. After the conclusion of the trial, Lamb’s attorney Patrick Watts had some strong feelings against the way McMillen handled the case.
“You have a sheriff who tried to execute a political hit- there’s really no other way to describe it- on his political opponent. This is the worst type of small-town policing that exists,” Watts claims. “And I tell you what- they’re not going go to do it again.”
The conversation between Boston and Lamb took place over social media on January 13 and Watts said the jury appeared to have a grasp of the purpose of Facebook.
“They all understand that it’s the same as going out on a street corner, and they know that they don’t want to be arrested for things that they’re putting on Facebook, and they know they probably wouldn’t because they’re not running against the sheriff,” he says.
“But it’s sick. We’re Americans, and this is the United States. And when you have a sitting sheriff writing a report that’s factually inaccurate on its face, and he admits that on the stand, and then says, ‘Man, I’m glad it’s been quiet around here’ after the charges are filed, I think it puts a little disgust in the mind of the average intelligent juror,” Watts continues.
During his closing statement, Watts highlighted that the prosecutor was making it appear that if someone communicates was a juror, the person has committed a crime. Watts emphasized that the crime against Lamb was unlawful communication with a juror and that is very different. Watts also asked the jury to climb into the head of Lamb and decide if he knew that Boston had been selected as a juror. Under Lamb’s testimony, he believed Boston was at his mailbox getting a letter for jury duty when he made his Facebook post, not in the process of a jury trial.
As for the closing statements of appellate prosecutor Ed Parkinson, he talked about the fact that McMillen has been in law enforcement for over 24 years, and when he saw the context of the conversation between Boston and Lamb on Facebook he knew that wasn’t right. Parkinson added that Lamb running for sheriff had no impact on the actions taken by McMillen.
Parkinson declined to comment to WLDS-WEAI News after the trial concluded, and McMillen was not available for comment.
Lamb still plans to run for Greene County Sheriff against McMillen in the November election.
Ryne Turke wrote this report.