Former Bell County resident John Slusher appeared in federal court for a bond violation hearing Tuesday. After hearing both sides, Judge Hanly A. Ingram decided to take the situation under advisement.
The prosecution claimed Slusher violated his bond by traveling in the district without approval of the court and made direct or indirect contact with potential witnesses outside his attorney’s presence.
The plaintiff also stated in the motion that Slusher, under the guise of a published legal notice, alleged threat of civil remedies against a government witness. The aforementioned notice involved retired Kentucky State Trooper William (Bill) Riley.
Slusher published the legal notice in the Middlesboro Daily News, Mountain Advocate, Cumberland Trading Post and the Times-Tribune. It is alleged the he attempted to hang up fliers at Billy’s One Stop, Southeast Towing and Wallens Towing and Recovery.
Representatives from the Daily News, Mountain Advocate, Billy’s One Stop, Southeast Towing and Wallens Towing and Recovery were present in court. Karen Rhymer from the Daily News and Arie Lockard from the Mountain Advocate confirmed that Slusher did bring the notice into their respective businesses.
In both instances, Slusher refused to give his name and stated the notice was being placed for his attorney, Mark Woelander.
Adam Jordan, an employee from Billy’s One Stop, was also approached by Slusher and asked to put some fliers in the store. Jordan stated he believed the fliers were church related and allowed it, but quickly removed it once he saw what it was.
W.H. Mills from Southeast Towing testified Slusher did a similar thing to him. He was asked to pass out fliers to people but did not. Mills also testified that he has known Riley for about 25 years and had worked on some of Riley’s vehicles.
Danny Wallen from Wallen Wrecker Service testified he too originally believed the fliers were church related. After realizing what the fliers were, he also refused to hand out the fliers. Wallen testified he knew Riley for 30 years and contacted Riley about the fliers.
U.S. Attorney Andrew Sparks claims the defendant indirectly had contact with possible witnesses by placing the notice in the newspapers and hanging up fliers because multiple people would have access to it.
Sparks also argued that Slusher violated his bond by going to each of the places and placing the notices.
The plaintiff and the defense agreed that Slusher would not hand out any more fliers. The defense stated Slusher was acting on the defense councils behalf.
Woelander stated he did not know Slusher would not be able to hand out the fliers and publish the notice. Woelander claims he and the defense have limited resources and felt it would be OK for Slusher to do this.
Woelander said the plaintiff had no proof of Slusher having any contact with potential witnesses, stating none of the people involved in the hearing would be witnesses at the trial.
The decision for the bond violation will be decided at a later date by Ingram. Until the decision is handed down, Slusher will still be free on bond.
Anthony Cloud is a staff writer for the Middlesboro Daily News. He can be contacted via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 606-248-1010, ext. 208.