Bartee called arrogant, reckless and desperate

Prosecutor Lindsey Simmons called James Bartee several names as she wrapped up the state’s case with a call to the jury to pay special attention to what’s on the tape from the wire recording of defendant Bartee and his accuser, Nick Blackwell. Simmons and her counterpart, defense attorney Douglas Brannon, completed their final arguments to the jury, preceded by the judge’s charging of the law covering solicitation to commit a felony. In the days leading to a civil court hearing to decide the validity of Bartee’s place on the ballot, Simmons called the former Sheriff’s candidate desperate and reckless. Simmons gave a timeline of the events that led to law enforcement’s wiring of Blackwell for a conversation at the Bartee home—a conversation Blackwell came away from convinced that the man whom he was supporting for sheriff wanted him to kidnap Jimmy Williams for the purpose of keeping Williams away from the ballot challenge hearing initiated by Williams. Simmons began her remarks to the jury by saying that Bartee waged “dirty politics” that reflected his obsession to become the next sheriff, in spite of the truth. That truth, Simmons said, included the fact that, under state law, Bartee was ineligible to be on the ballot in the first place. The assistant solicitor said Bartee knew it and that was why, from his campaign of supporters, he handpicked Blackwell for a plot to kidnap Williams. According to Simmons, Bartee considered Blackwell vulnerable because he was under investigation by the existing sheriff’s office as the suspect in the shooting death of another man. Defense lawyer Brannon decried the state’s role, saying it failed to properly investigate Blackwell’s claim against Bartee to determine whether a crime had occurred. Brannon used “witch hunt” to describe what the state set out to do to his client. Simmons told the jury that an actual kidnapping is not required to warrant a conviction—that evidence of intent alone is enough. As the jurors go into their room, they’ll have the recordings and transcripts and other exhibits at their disposal.