During yesterday’s testimony in the trial of St Augustine City Commissioner Errol Jones, who said what to who and when became the issue of conflicting testimony, “foggy memory” and a dispute over a witness statement that has been called into question by the defense.
Statements from 32 year-old St Augustine Police Officer Matt Mitchell, who was the first responder to a disturbance call at the home of the commissioner’s mother last October, describe Jones as “courteous”, not agitated, “not intoxicated” nor abusive.
So much so, that when a second officer approached the scene where Officer Mitchell, Commissioner Errol Jones and his brother, Robert Jones, were attempting to determine why the police had been called, Officer Mitchell waved him on … signaling that he didn’t feel that he needed any assistance.
In opening arguments by state prosecutor, 35 year-old Jason Lewis, he said the state would show that Jones was intoxicated, interjected himself into the police investigation of the disturbance at his mother’s home without invitation, and refused the lawful orders of Police Officer Michael Linsky when he told Jones to “Stop”.
Arguments and statements by the attorneys in the case are not evidence.
The woman who was the complainant and responsible for the second call to police, resulting in Officer Linsky’s return to the scene, 50 year-old Janice Higginbotham, testified that she lives in the house with Commissioner Jones’ brother, Robert Jones, and the mother.
The victim says that although Robert Jones was loud and excited, Commissioner Errol Jones was not. She admitted that she, too, was excited and speaking loudly since she had a patch of her hair pulled from her head, allegedly by Robert Jones daughter during a disturbance at the home earlier.
Higginbotham says that she was in the road. She was standing next to and speaking to Officer Linsky, after Linsky responded to her 9-1-1 call, and that she never heard Linsky order Jones to stop. Prosecutor Ben Rich asked her if her recollection might be a little foggy; then had had her read a portion of her deposition where she said that Jones refused to step back.
Additionally, the final line of the sworn statement given to the police by Higginbotham, saying that Errol Jones had been harassing Officer Linsky, had been struck through. When asked why she wrote that statement, Higginbotham replied, “Officer Linsky told me I had to have that there.
Later, Higginbotham said she got the affidavit back and struck through the statement. She told jurors that she wanted her voluntary statement to be true and not be just what the officer wanted her to say. She went on to say that Officer Mitchell told her to strike through any part of it that wasn’t her true statement.
The court broke for lunch after the prosecution and defense rested. They resumed at 2:00 this afternoon.