published Monday, March 17th, 2014

Heritage High officials testify in student injury case

Prosecutors called a Heritage High School principal, assistant principal and custodian to the stand this afternoon in the first day of the Catoosa County Superior Court trial of the mother of a former student.

The Catoosa County Sheriff’s Office arrested Davida Kaye Caylor in February 2013 on a charge of making false statements. Three weeks earlier, Caylor had filed a complaint with the sheriff’s office, telling an investigator that Assistant Principal Eric Beagles slammed her son’s hand on his desk in his office.

During the investigation, Detective Freddie Roden said, he received a photo that was supposed to be of the injured hand of Caylor’s son, then-15-year-old Gregory Aaron Black. The picture showed a deep, blue bruise to the hand.

But Roden did not believe the photo was actually of Blacks’ hand — either the photo was altered or it was a picture of somebody else’s hand, he said. On Feb. 28, 2013, Roden and other members of the Catoosa County Sheriff’s Office showed up to Caylor’s house and handcuffed her, also charging her with resisting arrest in the process.

Today, Lookout Mountain Judicial Circuit District Attorney Chris Arnt called Beagles, Principal Ronnie Bradford and Custodian Chris Lones to the stand.

But before he did that, Arnt told the jury that the picture in question represents a lie to a police officer.

“A picture is worth a thousand words,” Arnt said during his opening statement. “This case is going to come down to a picture and the law that picture represents.”

Caylor’s attorney, Richard Murray, told the jury that Caylor did not actually take the picture in question. In fact, he said, her son took it and posted it on Facebook, and the sheriff’s office decided to charge her with a crime as a result.

And more importantly, Murray said, the evidence in the case shows that Roden never had any intention of investigating the assistant principal. Because Caylor accused Beagles of a crime, Roden chose to arrest her, even though Caylor tried to give the detective audio recordings that she said backed up her case.

“He refused to listen to it,” Murray told the jury. “He didn’t have to listen to it. He ignored it and ignored it and ignored it.”

The trial continues Tuesday before Judge Kristina Cook Graham.

For complete details, see tomorrow’s Chattanooga Times Free Press.

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