Trial dates for five Shreveport firefighters accused of mistreating two mentally challenged men have been set for June and August.
Four of the accused will face misdemeanor charges June 19 that they hired a prostitute – almost a year to the date -- for one of the men. Any possible convictions then could help bolster the prosecution in the felony trials of cruelty to the infirm that will begin Aug. 18. Each of the five defendants will be tried separately. In August, that means five separate six-person juries will have to be seated for the felony cases.
Firefighters Derrick Harris, Billy Glass, Jason Vaughan and Clint Richardson face the misdemeanor prostitution charges. Those men plus Randy Chandler will face cruelty charges.
Attorneys spent much of the 2 p.m. Wednesday hearing pressing prosecutors for written notes taken by investigators during the firefighters' statements last year. Caddo prosecutor Dale Cox argued that the notes are not working documents. Those notes helped investigators file formal reports that led to charges being filed.
The alleged acts of cruelty mostly were against one victim. The incidents include being stranded on the Station 8 roof, locked in a closet and handcuffed to a police car. The man also was served dog food and received numerous ant bites after his hat was tossed onto an ant hill.
Prosecutors expect the defense to liken some of the events to hazing. The victims had relatively long histories of hanging around Station 8, sometimes assisting in chores. Cox likened hazing to activity between "consenting adults,'' not between a firefighter and a mentally challenged person.
Attorneys have been pressing for more specific dates and information about the incidents of alleged cruelty. Peter Flowers, attorney for Clint Richardson, noted after the hearing that memories of events at the fire station can become fuzzy – even embellished -- in the recollection about who was where and when and what exactly occurred. Dates can also help attorneys determine who else was on duty as they seek additional information about alleged acts.
A Caddo grand jury also continues to consider possible malfeasance by leadership within the Fire Department related to these cases. There have been some questions about the transition from an internal Fire Department review to when law enforcement became involved. The grand jury heard witnesses in March and will hear more testimony when it convenes later this month.
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