Springfield DWI cover-up hearing pushed back again
SPRINGFIELD - Wednesday a judge signed a continuance to push back a hearing for two leaders of a small town in Livingston Parish after they were accused of covering up a DWI arrest three years ago.
The long-time mayor of Springfield and the chief of police were arrested and booked into jail in July of 2011. Mayor Charles Martin and Chief of Police James Jones face charges of obstruction of justice, injuring public records, malfeasance in office and criminal conspiracy to commit these crimes.
Some folks in Springfield say they'll continue to back their mayor and police chief despite the allegations.
"I think the town is behind them for what they done as in the sense of trying to help somebody," said resident Joey Fontenot. "The way they went around it... I don't know. They don't appreciate it, but they stand behind their mayor and chief of police."
In April of 2011, Springfield police officer Ryan Weaver pulled over a woman named Tyra Jones along Louisiana Highway 22. Weaver gave Jones a breath test, and she blew more than double the legal limit.
The original arrest warrant lays out a claim of a cover-up by both the mayor and police chief. Court documents indicate Mayor Martin admitted to investigators that "he knowingly committed illegal acts related to Mrs. Jones arrest."
The plan was to send prosecutors paper work for a reduced charged rather than DWI. According to court records, the police chief told the mayor, "If it don't get sent in, nothing will be done with it."
Prosecutors are likely to build their case around extensive audio recordings outlining the plan and cover-up so the mayor could take care of a friend.
"I think in this case the facts are very simple. We're ready to go. We basically just need to tee it up and get ready for trial," said Assistant Attorney General David Caldwell.
However, Mayor Martin's defense attorney Lance Unglesby claims Officer Ryan Weaver was out to get Martin.
"I believe he was the driving force behind this," he said. "I think he had a personal vendetta against the city of Springfield and Mayor Martin, and as a result of that it precipitated into this case."
At the time of his arrest three years ago Mayor Martin told News 2 that he has made mistakes while in office but would not go into detail. While the wait for a trial looms on, the people of Springfield feel their leaders just tried to help out someone in need.
"If you know either one of them, that was their sole intent, not to hurt anybody but to help somebody that needed a little extra help," said Fontenot. "Did they lose a piece of paper, or did something not get put where it should have been, you know? It wasn't like robbing a bank or killing somebody you know. There's a lot more wrong in the world than what happened here in the small town of Springfield."
The case was scheduled for a hearing Thursday in district court, but it was pushed back to September 2. Both defense attorney's expect a trial by the end of the year.