Leary case dismissed

Published 12:18 am Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Violation of court order leads to charge being dismissed

Witnesses’ failure to comply with a court order regarding witness sequestration resulted in the charge of resisting a pubic officer against Joseph Carter Leary being dismissed in Beaufort County District Court on Monday.

District Court Judge Regina Parker granted defense attorney Les Robinson’s motion to dismiss the charge because the witnesses had returned to the courtroom in violation of the court’s order that they be sequestered during the trial.

Witnesses are sequestered so they do not hear one another’s testimony during a trial and so the testimony of others does not influence an individual witness’ testimony.

In an email to media representatives at the trial, District Attorney Seth Edwards wrote, “FYI — we learned that one of the bailiffs mistakenly advised the other deputies (who had not testified) that the case was over and the lawyers were doing the final arguments, so that is why they came in the courtroom. The bailiff admitted that to the judge. However, that did not change the result — you can’t put the toothpaste back into the tube.”

Leary was arrested June 15 during a standoff involving one of his relatives, Joseph Gary Gautier, of 320 E. 12th St. That standoff ended peacefully with Gautier taken into custody and transported to Beaufort County Medical Center for evaluation. On June 21, Gautier was arrested and charged with making a false bomb report (a felony), discharging a firearm in the city limits and communicating threats. He was placed in the Beaufort County Detention Center under a $250,000 bond, but later he was released after posting bail.

Although Gautier’s charges were slated for District Court on Monday, they were not heard. The disposition of those charges was unclear Monday evening.

The prosecution had rested its case and the defense was presenting its case when the witnesses’ presence in the courtroom was noticed. After the judge, prosecution and defense conducted a sidebar at the bench, Robinson made his motion to dismiss the charge against Leary, which Parker granted.

About Mike Voss

Mike Voss is the contributing editor at the Washington Daily News. He has a daughter and four grandchildren. Except for nearly six years he worked at the Free Lance-Star in Fredericksburg, Va., in the early to mid-1990s, he has been at the Daily News since April 1986.
Journalism awards:
• Pulitzer Prize for Meritorious Public Service, 1990.
• Society of Professional Journalists: Sigma Delta Chi Award, Bronze Medallion.
• Associated Press Managing Editors’ Public Service Award.
• Investigative Reporters & Editors’ Award.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Public Service Award, 1989.
• North Carolina Press Association, Second Place, Investigative Reporting, 1990.
All those were for the articles he and Betty Gray wrote about the city’s contaminated water system in 1989-1990.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Investigative Reporting, 1991.
• North Carolina Press Association, Third Place, General News Reporting, 2005.
• North Carolina Press Association, Second Place, Lighter Columns, 2006.
Recently learned he will receive another award.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Lighter Columns, 2010.
4. Lectured at or served on seminar panels at journalism schools at UNC-Chapel Hill, University of Maryland, Columbia University, Mary Washington University and Francis Marion University.

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