Posted on

McClanahan guilty of battery, not felonies

Former Palmyra Town Council President and Town Marshal Roy (Speedy) McClanahan, 63, was found guilty of misdemeanor battery Thursday in Harrison County Superior Court. The jury deliberated just over an hour.
McClanahan was also tried on charges of unlawfully pointing a firearm and criminal recklessness, class D felonies, stemming from a confrontation between him and Irven Holliday, 79, that occurred on Sept. 6, 2003. McClanahan was found not guilty of both felony charges.
Jurors did not comment on the verdict which followed defense attorney Stan Faith’s closing argument that attacked Holliday’s credibility, and a theatrical rebuttal by special prosecutor Scott Callahan of Lawrence County.
A report filed in Harrison County Superior Court alleges that McClanahan came to Holliday’s residence and argued with him over a water bill. At that time, McClanahan was president of the town council and a marshal. His clothing identified him as law enforcement.
McClanahan said he was at Holliday’s home to investigate water theft. He said someone had cut a lock off a previously unused meter, and he was told to investigate the situation as a town officer.
Holliday said in the report that he directed McClanahan to leave, but McClanahan instead returned to his Palmyra police cruiser and remained parked in Holliday’s driveway.
When Holliday later went out in his yard, McClanahan got out of his police car and sprayed pepper spray into Holliday’s face, according to the report.
The men gave conflicting details concerning virtually every aspect of the confrontation, but McClanahan said that he sprayed Holliday after Holliday approached the cruiser in a threatening manner and placed a hand in his pocket.
Faith said the elderly man’s composure on the stand was evidence that he was ‘dynamite under control, sometimes.’
Holliday said McClanahan got out of the car with the spray and a shotgun, grabbed him by the throat and threw him to the ground before spraying him in the face and mouth.
Faith attacked Holliday’s claim that McClanahan discharged pepper spray into his mouth, an allegation that even Callahan appeared to doubt.
Callahan admitted that Holliday was ‘wrong’ about some details of the confrontation, ‘but he’s accurate about a great many things,’ Callahan said.
However, in his rebuttal Callahan referred little to Holliday’s testimony. Instead, he concentrated on the testimony of Jerry Risinger, an eyewitness without which, he later said, the case never would have gone to trial.
Risinger both viewed and overheard much of the altercation from an adjacent property.
He said Holliday neither threw anything at the car nor ran at it suddenly. Risinger said he heard McClanahan use profanity and Holliday repeatedly order McClanahan to leave the property, all contradicting McClanahan’s testimony.
‘Jerry says (McClanahan) is in the car and leans over in the seat. What’s that allow you to do? Can you point a gun at this angle,’ Callahan said while demonstrating the posture.
‘Jerry then heard Holliday say, ‘You’re not going to kill no one.’ ‘
‘Why does he say that?’ Callahan said.
‘You know the answer,’ he said to the jury. ‘There was a gun being pointed at him.’
Risinger never testified to seeing McClanahan point a gun at Holliday.
Faith claimed that the force used by McClanahan was justified and fell within the legal definition of self-defense. Callahan argued that McClanahan was trespassing at the time he used force, voiding his claim of self-defense.
‘When he is told to go, he must go. When all this goes down … he did not have a right to be there,’ Callahan said.
McClanahan shook his head and scowled twice during Callahan’s rebuttal, including once when Callahan pointed his finger at McClanahan and shouted, ‘Today is his day to be convicted.’
McClanahan lowered his head when special judge Glen Hancock read the guilty verdict for the battery charge.
Hancock scheduled a sentencing hearing for April 25. Battery is a class A misdemeanor, punishable by no more than one year in jail and a fine of no more than $5,000.
First offenders commonly serve no jail time.