|M/Sgt. C.J. Grisham placed under arrest by Officer Steve Ermis|
Belton – In a complete reversal of what officials told the public following the sensational mistrial of M/Sgt. C.J. Grisham for the misdemeanor offense of interfering with a public official, Bell County Attorney Jim Nichols set the record straight in a courthouse interview with a citizen who wanted to confirm the truth.
Officials there required the man to file a written request for information to confirm the previously published date and venue of the trial following a 4-day mistrial that included two full days of jury deliberation which resulted in a hopeless jury deadlock.
But, according to what Mr. Nichols said, a juror named L.J. Cotterill misinformed the public when he said in a post-trial interview that five held out for acquittal, while only one juror voted to convict. Mr. Cotterill could not be reached for comment.
Mr. Cotterill said the panel could not agree on how to apply the legal definition of criminal negligence to the evidence and testimony presented in the case which prosecutors sought to prove regarding allegations that M/Sgt. C.J. Grisham interfered with Temple Police Officer Steve Ermis when he sought to disarm him during an arrest that took place on March 16.
He and his son were walking along a rural road near farm property members of his extended family own near the Temple airport after a woman phoned the police to report she was alarmed by the “odd” appearance of a man carrying a long black rifle in public.
A Dashcam video made by the equipment in Officer Ermis' patrol car clearly showed him pointing the muzzle of his semiautomatic pistol into the back of Sgt. Grisham's neck, grasping his rifle by the sling, and bending him over the hood of the police car before he jabbed the muzzle into his ribs and confiscated the weapon.
Ermis testified that Grisham waved his hands rather than placing them behind his back as ordered, and his voluble remarks questioning what law did he break constituted interference with a public official while in the performance of his appointed duties.
There is no law against carrying a loaded rifle or shotgun in public in Texas.
According to Mr. Gates, “He (Nichols) said, 'We talked to the jury after the trial, and it was 5 guilty and one not guilty.'”
Mr. Nichols confirmed that C.J. Grisham will be retried on November 18.
Reached for comment, Sgt. Grisham said, “At one point, it was 4 to 2 in my favor. Then the judge told them that it not a case of self defense, or that they could not consider self defense as a factor. So they completely split and went to 4 to convict...It was such a big swing that we thought it was a mistake.”
Once the defense team and he arrived for a guest speaker appearance in San Antonio for the “Line in the Sand” rally at the Alamo, they got a new perspective when they learned something brand new, at least to them.
“We didn't know until Saturday that it was five to convict and one to acquit.”
“After he (visiting Judge Neel Richardson) declared a mistrial, he said 'I'm looking at mid-November,' and they set the new trial for then.”
Reached for comment, defense attorney Blue Rannefeld said any pleadings or motions filed in the interim may affect the ultimate schedule of the new trial.
He intends to file a motion for a change of venue, but is not sure what new location the administrative judge for the area will select. Costs for the new trial will be borne by the taxpayers of Bell County. If the County Attorney's office chooses to drop the case at any time during the next two years, prosecutors could subsequently re-file the case before the statute of limitations expires in the year 2015.