Witnesses offer differing accounts of alleged beating
Tuesday, January 28, 2014 10:00 AM
The trial of two men accused of beating a state's witness in a drug trial began Monday with testimony from the alleged victim.
The beating allegedly took place in August 2013.
John Taulbee was the first person to take the stand in the trial of Dustin C. McFadden, 23, and Garry Allen Gibson, 48. Both men are charged with aggravated battery, criminal confinement and battery resulting in serious bodily injury. The most serious crime is a Class B felony.
Taulbee testified that on the day of the attack he was working on a car for a woman and took it for a test drive. After the test drive, Taulbee, who testified for about two hours, brought the car back and was talking to the woman's boyfriend.
"We were just sitting there talking about concrete ... and then somebody came up behind me and punched me three or four times," Taulbee said.
Taulbee identified Gibson as the man who punched him in the back of the head. Taulbee said he was able to run for a short distance before being stopped by a man he did not know (and who was not charged in this case).
Taulbee said the unknown man pushed him and McFadden grabbed him by the ponytail, causing him to fall to the ground. Taulbee testified that while on the ground, each man kicked him once.
After the incident, Taulbee said he was "covered in blood" and was helped back to his apartment. From there, he was taken to King's Daughters' Hospital before being airlifted to University Hospital in Louisville.
According to the probable cause affidavit, Taulbee suffered facial fractures, a fractured nose, brain hemorrhaging and blurred vision as a result of the attack. The pain was extreme, Taulbee said.
Taulbee, who earlier had cut his thumb off in a shear press at work, said, "I'd rather have my thumb cut off again." He spent four days in the hospital.
Prosecutors said they believe the attack on Taulbee was retaliatory in nature because he testified on behalf of the state in their drug case against Chris Peelman. One of Peelman's co-defendants is the sister of McFadden and stepdaughter of Gibson.
Several references were made Monday to Taulbee being called a snitch.
Two witnesses to the attack provided different accounts of what happened. One man, who identified the defendants in a photo lineup, said Gibson hit Taulbee and McFadden grabbed his hair and punched him in the head. A female witness said there was a group of about 20 people who had taken part in the attack.
At the time of the alleged attack, McFadden and his family were having a birthday party for his stepson, a party which Taulbee is alleged to have crashed.
Josh Hershberger, McFadden's attorney, said during his opening statement that Taulbee was "rudely interrupting" the birthday party and was swearing and being rude around party guests. Taulbee left the party, Hershberger said, and McFadden stayed behind.
"He didn't participate in a battery," Hershberger said. "He participated in a birthday party."
Stephen Beardsley, Gibson's attorney, agreed that Taulbee had been an instigator in the situation, even going so far as saying Taulbee had gained "swagger" by becoming friends with police officers. Beardsley said Taulbee came over and told people he had the right to spoil the party because of his friends in the police department.
The prosecution is expected to wrap up its case Wednesday, with the defense likely to finish on Thursday.