Bartee friend described as hostile state witness

When the state called to the stand an Atlanta area resident, its purpose appeared to have been to have the witness testify about 14 phone calls that he received from Nick Blackwell, the man who law enforcement equipped with a wire to record Blackwell’s conversation with James Bartee. Much of what Joseph Allen Milbert had to say about Bartee amounted to a character boost for a man he has known and befriended since childhood. Twice, during cross-examination by Bartee’s attorney, Milbert said no when asked if Bartee had ever asked to kidnap anyone. Milbert described his friend as a skilled and valued member of the Secret Service. But when asked by assistant solicitor Lindsey Simmons if Milbert were aware that his friend had been suspended by the Secret Service for making a racial slur, the witness said he had no such knowledge of that. Two members of the trial jury are African-American. Bartee lawyer Douglas Brannon called for a mistrial, a motion Judge McIntosh denied. The jury got to hear the recordings of a couple of calls between Blackwell and Milbert in which Blackwell appeared to use Milbert to convey messages to Bartee, including Blackwell’s request that he meet with Bartee.