A TV news interview to be played for jury

LaDonna Beeker, Paul Harris, David Smith, and James Singleton are among this afternoon’s witnesses for the prosecution in the Oconee County trial of James Bartee. And around 3 o’clock this afternoon the courtroom was being prepared for the playback of a Fox 21 interview with then candidate for sheriff Bartee. This week’s trial has the potential for as many as 40 witnesses in all, and the judge thinks it may run for the rest of the week. On this first day of testimony, the trial is in the prosecution phase. This afternoon’s witnesses included LaDonna Beeker, who last year worked as a reporter for The Journal. During her testimony, an audio recording of an interview she did with Bartee was played for the jury. In that interview, Beeker questioned Bartee about his insistence that he was in fact eligible to run for sheriff and, if elected, could be certified to serve in time to take office. Testimony by Walhalla Police Lt. Paul Harris was cut short by an objection from the defense. Harris had started to testify about an incident on a Walhalla street between Bartee accuser Nick Blackwell and Donnie Fricks, one of last year’s candidates for sheriff. Investigator David Smith of the Sheriff’s Office testified about a conversation he had with Blackwell that led to then Sheriff James Singleton to ask the state police to investigate an allegation that Bartee wanted Judge Jimmy Williams kidnapped. And Singleton, now retired, also testified along that line.