Bartee: Never asked Blackwell

At 9:30 this morning, James Bartee took the witness stand and made it sound from the start that he relished the opportunity to give his side. By 11, he was still answering questions from his lawyer. Indications were the testimony is likely to continue for quite some time. Early on, defense lawyer Brannon asked Bartee if he had ever asked Nick Blackwell to do anything for him. The defendant replied he had not, with the exception of asking his then supporter for sheriff to put up campaign signs. When asked if he ever heard Blackwell talk about hurting anyone, Bartee replied that he had—more than one person, he said. And Bartee claimed it was Blackwell who said he wanted to harm Jimmy Williams, the retired judge. Asked why he did not report what he heard to the police, Bartee said he didn’t report what he heard because Sheriff James Singleton told him not to. “That’s what he told me,” Bartee said referring to what he said Singleton told him. In a timeline of questions asked by his attorney, Bartee testified that at Blackwell’s request he gave Blackwell a loan of $180 dollars four days before Williams filed his legal challenge of Bartee’s candidacy. Both sides are disputing how an exact or like amount of money went from Bartee to Blackwell and for what purpose it was intended. Bartee’s side takes the position the purpose was a kind of humanitarian loan for a man who needed it for his family, while the state says it was money Bartee gave Blackwell to buy materials to effect the kidnapping of a retired judge who had gone to court to stop Bartee’s campaign.