View Full Version : And the trial begins....Tim McGraw

05-15-2001, 11:37 AM
from www.tennessean.com

Horse incident has Tim, Faith in courtroom

Tim McGraw and wife Faith Hill were in court yesterday in Orchard Park, N.Y., for jury selection in his trial on charges stemming from the horse incident when the George Strait fest stopped at Ralph Wilson Stadium there last June.

McGraw, his singing buddy Kenny Chesney and road manager Mark Russo are accused of scuffling with Erie County deputies after Chesney rode off on a deputy's horse. He had been given permission to sit on the horse but not to ride away, police said.

McGraw is accused of grabbing an officer by the back of the neck. He was charged with assault, resisting arrest, obstructing governmental administration and menacing — misdemeanors punishable by up to a year in prison. He also faces a lesser charge of harassment, punishable by fines but not jail time.

Chesney was charged with disorderly conduct, a violation, after he allegedly refused deputies' orders to get off the horse. Because Chesney was only charged with a violation, he does not face a jury trial and was not in court yesterday. He is expected to testify today when the trial begins in Orchard Park Town Court.

Russo was charged with obstruction, resisting arrest, harassment and disorderly conduct.

The singers have said it was all a misunderstanding. According to court papers, Chesney told officers he had permission from a deputy's daughter to ride the horse and that he was going to turn around and come back after taking it into the performers' area outside the stadium.

The deputy's daughter said she allowed Chesney to sit on the horse — but not ride it away — and that he ignored her shouts to come back.

When the deputies tried to corral Chesney and the horse, Chesney said, McGraw tried to intervene to protect his friend.

''Samuel Timothy McGraw said 'not guilty' to each and every accusation and demanded his day in court,'' defense attorney Thomas Eoannou said during an opening statement yesterday. ''All he's asking, ladies and gentlemen, is a fair shake. That's all he's asking.''

''I think the Erie County sheriffs run their organization like a Gestapo,'' said Eric Piechowicz of Orchard Park, the only fan to show up outside the courthouse. ''He had permission to sit on the horse. What happened to 'Hey, can you get off the horse?' ''

05-15-2001, 04:18 PM
I see community service in their futures :)


05-15-2001, 06:13 PM
:rolleyes: :eek:

- I had not heard about this before...


05-17-2001, 12:40 AM
I have heard Tim and Kenny take these charges very seriously. But here's what courttv.com said today
Country stars' horse trial is big deal in small town

By Harriet Ryan
Court TV
ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. — As the second day of his assault trial was about to start, country star Tim McGraw beckoned his wife, singer Faith Hill, to the court rail and planted a substantial kiss on her pink lips.

The couple smiled at each other. The defense lawyers smiled. The people in the gallery smiled. The jurors smiled.

In a bigger case in a bigger venue, such a display in front of the jury would have been unthinkable. Panelists would never have been permitted to saunter into the jury box before court officially started, and the prosecution certainly would have attacked McGraw and his defense for trying to sway jurors with sentimental and inappropriate behavior.

But in Orchard Park, a Buffalo suburb of 25,000 where the last noteworthy crime was a gang of teenagers assaulting a pregnant donkey, and in a misdemeanor trial where the most the defendants can get is a year in jail, there are few formalities. Women bring their toddlers into court. Lawyers chew gum. And jurors share the parking lot, the bathrooms and the hallways with the defendants whose fate they are weighing.

The system was not built for high-profile cases with chart-topping defendants, autograph-seeking fans, and a dozen reporters, a point driven home Tuesday when McGraw's lawyer moved for a mistrial after jurors on a coffee break witnessed a news conference concerning the trial.

"Just 12 feet from the door to the court!" lawyer Thomas Eoannou shouted after learning that the local sheriff, the strongest proponent of McGraw's conviction, was speaking to reporters in the courthouse lobby where jurors were relaxing. Town Justice Edmund Brown Jr. denied the mistrial motion, but told jurors — who claimed they hadn't heard a word of Sheriff Patrick Gallivan's press conference — future breaks would be held in a small room off the court.

"I don't want anything tainting this trial," Brown said.

McGraw, a 34-year-old Grammy winner with 14 number-one songs, is accused of brawling with police during a June music festival. According to sheriff's deputies, McGraw and his road manager, Mark Russo, interfered when officers tried to pull singer Kenny Chesney from a police horse which they believed he had commandeered without permission.

McGraw, charged with four misdemeanors, and Russo, charged with two, face a year in prison. Chesney, who made his first appearance in court Tuesday after missing jury selection and opening statements, is charged with a disorderly conduct violation and faces just 15 days in jail.

On Tuesday, jurors got their first eyewitness account of the fracas backstage at the George Strait Country Music Festival June 3, 2000. McGraw claims he ran to Chesney's aide as deputies were yanking his friend and fellow singer from the horse to keep him from falling onto the pavement. But Sheriff's Department Detective Arthur Litzinger testified that McGraw attacked him from behind, seriously injuring his back, and then attempted to assault his partner.

Litzinger said he and his fellow officers were leaving a training session at Ralph Wilson Stadium when several of the mounted officers flagged down the patrol car he was driving with his partner, Sgt. Mark Rokitka.

"They told me that someone got one of their horses," he said, adding, "My concern was to find out who [the rider] was and get him down off the horse before someone got hurt. A horse is a dangerous animal when in the hands of someone who doesn't know how to control it."

Chesney claims the daughter of one of the officers had given him permission to ride Chico, a 17-hand thoroughbred, to a VIP area to show the performers' children.

Litzinger said he and Rokitka knew nothing of that and chased after the horse in their patrol car and into the area reserved for performers and their families. On cross-examination, the defense implied that it was Litzinger and Rokitka who had posed the real danger by speeding into an area where children were playing. But the detective said he had only driven about 25 m.p.h. in the VIP section and saw no children.

According to the officer, his partner told Chesney to dismount twice and grabbed the sleeve of Chesney's orange University of Tennessee windbreaker. Litzinger testified that he also told the singer to get off the horse, but when he reached up to grab his sleeve, he was struck from behind.

"I heard a yell, 'Get your hands off him,' and an arm came around from behind and grabbed me ... I didn't see him coming," he said, adding that the force of the blow knocked him off his feet and onto his car. The assault came from McGraw, he said, and continued as the singer wrestled him into a headlock.

"I never really got loose. He suddenly let go of me," the officer, who trains other deputies in self-defense, admitted.

Litzinger said McGraw immediately began moving toward Rokitka who had been yelling at him to get off his partner.

"He had his fist clenched and he was going directly toward Sgt. Rokitka," said Litzinger. He said he quickly grabbed McGraw in a bear hug. Meanwhile, the singer's manager, Russo, was shouting, "That's Tim McGraw. He's the star."

Litzinger testified, "I said, 'Calm down, calm down. If there's some type of misunderstanding, we'll work it out."

He said that McGraw shot back, "You're f***ing right there's a misunderstanding."

During cross-examination, however, McGraw's lawyer repeatedly suggested that the singer was just trying to protect Chesney from falling.

"Didn't he push you, sir, and put his hand out toward Mr. Chesney?" asked Eoannou.

"No, that's not correct," Litzinger answered.

The detective said McGraw was soon surrounded by large men and whisked to his tour bus. About 45 minutes later, after deputies had massed at the scene and conferred about the charges, they arrested Chesney, McGraw and Russo.

Litzinger said his neck began feeling stiff within hours of the fight and continues to pain him 11 months later. His doctor, Mark Geraci, also took the stand Tuesday and confirmed that the detective suffers from a herniated disk. He said the injury is consistent with being grabbed from behind and thrown against a car, but acknowledged that any number of other explanations, including degenerative disk disorder, is possible.

Eoannou suggested that the detective was malingering to advance a civil suit against McGraw. Litzinger admitted talking to a lawyer about a suit, but said "no figures were discussed."

With the exception of the sheriff, courtroom observers seemed squarely in McGraw's corner.

"This whole thing has been blown out of proportion," said Sue Beahan, a McGraw fan who allowed her 17-year-old daughter, Benna, to skip school to watch the proceedings. The pair sat in the rear of Brown's court, a converted post office with vaulted ceilings, skylights and 10-foot-high paned windows.

"It's very educational," explained Beahan, holding a sign reading "Tim, you are the best."

"And I am interested in the law," added her daughter, who was clutching a McGraw fan club hat and T-shirt.

As the day drew on, the gallery began to fill up with teenagers who had rushed over from Orchard Park Middle School to see Hill and McGraw. They wore lacrosse uniforms and carried back packs, and perched on their chair arms to get a better view of the celebrities.

When court wrapped for the day, they lined the sidewalk, waving loose-leaf paper at McGraw and Hill as their entourage passed.

McGraw, smiling, promised, "When this whole thing is over, we'll sign for everybody."

"You're my hero!" one girl sputtered back.

05-17-2001, 07:55 AM
Go get them:eek:


05-18-2001, 12:55 AM
today on courttv
Thursday, May 17, 2001

Updated May 16, 2001, 7:00 p.m. ET

Horse pilfering, star seeking, songwriting: Another day in the McGraw trial

By Harriet Ryan
Court TV
ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. — When Tim McGraw's misdemeanor assault trial opened Monday, his lawyers laid much of the blame for the singer's current troubles at the feet of one woman.

Sharlene Turner, they hinted, was a groupie and convicted felon who sparked McGraw's post-concert fracas with police by enticing country crooner Kenny Chesney onto her father's police horse.

But when she took the stand Wednesday, Turner hardly seemed siren material. The 36-year-old divorced mother looked worn and lethargic as entered the quaint courtroom in this small Buffalo suburb. The gallery was packed with young female fans in halter tops, heels and carefully applied make-up, but Turner trudged in wearing jeans and sneakers. Her long bottle-blond bangs fell across her tired eyes as she walked past Chesney, McGraw and his superstar wife, Faith Hill, who sat in the front row cleaning her pink-tinted sunglasses with a snowy pashmina shawl.

Although the charges are only misdemeanors, the trial has been big news in Orchard Park, with high school students cutting school to attend and crowds of teenagers shrieking each time Hill and McGraw leave court. Turner had none of their enthusiasm. Her deep voice was unemotional as she disputed the defense's version of events and spoke at length about her own serious psychiatric problems and criminal record. She perked up only when discussing what she called her "best friends" — horses — and in those rambling answers she may have unwittingly bolstered Chesney and McGraw's case.

McGraw, 34, a Grammy winner and Nashville chart-topper, is accused of attacking a deputy who tried to pull Chesney from Chico, a 1,200-pound thoroughbred, on June 3, 2000, at the George Straight Country Music Festival, an all-day concert outside Buffalo. He faces a year in prison as does his manager. Chesney faces 15 days.

A deputy testified Tuesday that he tried to yank Chesney from the animal because it was a danger to pedestrians, but Turner testified, "These horses have been trained to be calm in crowd situations."

She also volunteered that Chesney's quick removal by deputies "might appear violent" to someone unfamiliar with horses. That admission overjoyed the defense because McGraw claims he was just trying to break his friend's fall from the animal and the police were the ones out of line.

Turner testified that she went to the stadium the night of the concert to visit her father, Capt. James Coyle, who was on mounted duty. Security guards waived her in without a pass or ticket after she explained why she was there, she said. Her father informed her by radio that he was in a training session, so she decided to wait with Chico and the other horses.

She recounted watering and grooming Chico, who she knew well.

"Did you consider this horse family?" asked prosecutor Michael McHale.

"Definitely. All the horses. We had to put one down and he's buried in the backyard," she said, adding that she had been riding since she was 6.

After some time, Turner became bored, she said, and decided to ride Chico. When she stopped near the stage exit to talk to a woman about horse breeding, McGraw passed by on a golf court.

"He said, 'Nice horse,'" she testified. "I didn't realize who it was until he passed and then I was like, oh, wow, that was Tim McGraw."

She denied being a country music admirer, but said she saw McGraw in concert in 1996 and owned one of his wife's CDs.

A few minutes later, she said, a second cart came from the stadium bearing a man she did not recognize as Chesney.

"I'm not a Kenny Chesney fan," she explained to much laughter from the gallery.

She said Chesney asked to "get up on the horse."

"I told him he could sit on the horse. I did not give him permission to ride," she said. But "he proceeded to ride away on the horse. I said, Oh, my God. Please stop."

Turner testified that she ran after him yelling for him to stop, but he rode into the VIP area. She then saw two deputies pulling Chesney from the horse, but did not see the altercation that followed.

"It was just mad chaos," she said.

On cross-examination, McGraw's lawyer Thomas Eoannou grilled her about what she had briefly discussed on direct: her recent conviction for a credit card fraud scheme and her history of severe depression. The lawyer spent 45 minutes questioning her about how she obtained phony credit cards and used them to buy food, liquor, clothes and jewelry. Turner admitted she had pleaded guilty, but said she could not remember many details.

"I was sick," she said, claiming that she did not recall many of her actions before being diagnosed with depression and prescribed medication.

The defense also implied that Turner positioned herself by the stage exit in hopes of meeting performers and had even offered McGraw a ride. She denied it, saying she was there only to see her father and had no interest in the musicians.

"Would you agree that some people are awestruck by country and western stars?" asked Anthony Lana, the lawyer for manager Mark Russo.

"Yes," she said. Then, after looking out on the gallery, she added, "There's a lot of them in the court today."

Also testifying Wednesday was Sgt. Mark Rokitka, whose partner Detective Arthur Litzinger claims McGraw attacked him. Rokitka testified that McGraw had a tight grip on the detective, one that he couldn't break, but did not see what started the altercation. Rokitka said he struck the singer with a nightstick after the singer lunged at him with a closed fist.

Courtroom observers — overwhelmingly fans — greeted his testimony with groans.

"He didn't see anything and he was right there," one gray-haired man blurted out Rokitka admitted he never saw Chesney leave the horse, nor McGraw grab his partner.

Not all fans came to offer support. One waiting for McGraw's arrival Wednesday morning was a 39-year-old salesman in suit and tie who refused to give his name because he was skipping work.

"I wrote this song," he said, holding a CD in his hand. "It's called 'Southern Nights Get Lonely.' I have one good song and I'm trying to get it to somebody who is already established. They can like it, they can not like it, but I want them to hear it."

He was standing on the sidewalk trying to give it to McGraw's security guard when court began.

Judge's heart attack delays McGraw case

By Harriet Ryan
Court TV
ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. — Tim McGraw's assault trial was postponed Thursday morning after the judge hearing the misdemeanor case was rushed to the hospital after suffering an apparent heart attack.

Town Justice Edmund Brown Jr. was wheeled from his chambers on an ambulance gurney minutes before the fourth day of testimony was to begin. Prosecutor Louis Haremski said the 66-year-old judge had his cancerous right lung removed in December.

According to the Associated Press, Brown was listed in critical condition in the Mercy Hospital cardiac care unit several hours after being admitted. Testimony was canceled for the day and court adjourned until Monday morning, when the judge's condition will be re-evaluated.

If Brown is able to return to the bench soon, the trial could continue. But if the judge is too ill, a mistrial would be declared and the proceedings would have to begin all over again, prosecutors said.

Country music star McGraw, 34, is accused of assaulting a sheriff's deputy backstage at a June concert in this Buffalo suburb. The officer and his partner were trying to remove singer Kenny Chesney from a police horse he had commandeered when the fracas broke out. McGraw and his manager Mark Russo face a year in prison. Chesney, charged with a disorderly conduct violation, faces 15 days in jail.

McGraw and his songstress wife, Faith Hill, were arriving at the courthouse Thursday morning when first aiders hurried into the building past dozens of fans waiting for a glimpse of the famous couple. Several minutes later, the emergency crew emerged with Brown, who wore an oxygen mask and looked pale. On Monday, he told jurors he had a cold and would let the lawyers do most of the talking. The judge, who has presided over the town court for 24 years, is to retire in December.

Lawyers said they hoped Brown would make a full recovery by Friday, but admitted a longer recuperation could scuttle the case.

"The worst case scenario if he is not able to proceed with the trial, it could result in a mistrial," said Anthony Lana, Russo's lawyer. "We don't want to ask for a mistrial. We're very confident in the way our case is proceeding."

The six jurors have heard testimony from the two deputies involved in the altercation and the woman who let Chesney mount the horse.

05-19-2001, 12:21 AM
InfoBeat - Judge's Heart Attack Delays Trial
^Associated Press Writer=

ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. (AP) _ The trial of country singers Tim
McGraw and Kenny Chesney was interrupted Thursday when the
presiding judge suffered an apparent heart attack minutes before
taking the bench.
Town Judge Edmund Brown Jr. was listed in critical condition
several hours after complaining of breathing problems in his
chambers just before the start of the fourth day of testimony. The
judge, who had lung surgery in December, went in an ambulance to
Mercy Hospital in Buffalo and later was admitted to its cardiac
care unit, a spokesman said.
Testimony was canceled for the day and court adjourned until
Monday morning, when the judge's condition will be re-evaluated.
The trial could be put on hold if Brown, 66, is out for a
limited time. If the judge can't return to work, however, a
mistrial would be declared and the proceedings would start again,
prosecutors said.
``It's unfortunate, he's a very nice man,'' Chesney said as he
left the courthouse.
Neither McGraw nor his wife _ country singer Faith Hill, a daily
spectator at the trial _ would comment.
``Our thoughts are with the judge right now,'' said Jessie
Schmidt, McGraw's Nashville, Tenn.-based spokeswoman.
Chesney and McGraw were arrested June 3 after performing at the
George Strait Music Festival at Ralph Wilson Stadium near Buffalo.
McGraw, whose latest album, ``Set This Circus Down,'' tops the
country charts, faces the most serious charges after allegedly
grabbing an Erie County Sheriff's deputy from behind as the officer
tried to pull Chesney from a police horse. Deputies did not realize
Chesney had permission from the horse owner's daughter to be on the
animal and said Chesney ignored their commands to get down.
McGraw, 34, and road manager Mark Russo, accused of joining the
backstage fray, are being tried on misdemeanor counts that could
carry prison terms of up to a year.
Chesney, 33, charged with a lesser disorderly conduct violation,
would face up to 15 days in jail if convicted. Because he is
charged only with a violation, the presiding judge will decide his
guilt or innocence, rather than the jury hearing the case against
all three men.
The six-person jury will decide in the cases of McGraw and
Russo, 45.
McGraw is charged with assault, resisting arrest, obstruction of
governmental administration and menacing, and a harassment
Russo is charged with obstruction of governmental administration
and resisting arrest, and harassment and disorderly conduct
The trial had been expected to finish Friday. McGraw has a
concert in Gulfport, Miss., on Saturday.

05-22-2001, 05:04 PM
Has anyone heard anything more about this? :confused:

The whole thing sounds like one Big Three Ring Circus! :rolleyes:

05-23-2001, 07:35 PM
not guilty. its official. hear it on my raido staiton

05-24-2001, 12:38 AM
Free to roam: McGraw and Chesney acquitted on all counts

Country crooner Tim McGraw, pictured here earlier in the week, can finally leave suburban Buffalo, where he has been on trial for a week and a half (AP photo).

By Harriet Ryan
Court TV
ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. —An upstate New York jury of four women and two men acquitted country stars Tim McGraw and Kenny Chesney on all counts stemming from a backstage brouhaha last June over a horse named Chico.

As the jury verdict was read, McGraw's superstar wife Faith Hill, sitting behind her husband in the small courthouse here, cried softly. McGraw glared at Sheriff Patrick Gallivan, whom he blamed for the incident. And although the judge had admonished them not to, a packed house in the court gallery applauded after the verdict was read.

After the judge dismissed the jurors, McGraw walked over to Gallivan with a copy of People magazine, which contained an article about the case with a quote from the sheriff, and tossed it in his lap. "It's yours now," he told Gallivan. The sheriff later said the move was "most indicative of the type of individual he is."

"We've been waiting 11 months to have our day of trial … the justice system works," McGraw told reporters outside the courtroom. "Justice prevails. We'll be back. We'll play again in Buffalo."

As many as 100 fans, some holding T-shirts, CDs and a white guitar, crowded around McGraw and Hill outside the red brick courthouse as they fulfilled their promise to sign autographs after the trial. "I love you! Congratulations!" one woman yelled.

Hill had traveled overnight from Honolulu, Hawaii, where she sang the national anthem for the premiere party of the movie Pearl Harbor and had not slept in 36 hours, according to Scott Siman, McGraw's manager. Hill called her two young children, ages 2 and 4, on her cellphone immediately following the verdict, Siman said.

The jury took less than three hours to acquit McGraw, Chesney and McGraw's manager, Mark Russo, on the minor charges levied against them after a scuffle with sheriff's deputies last June.

During the trial, McGraw's lawyer, Thomas Eoannou, argued that McGraw was the victim, saying Gallivan had maligned McGraw to advance his own political career. Gallivan, the lawyer said, "put aside the business of Erie County to assassinate Tim McGraw's character."

The prosecution claimed that McGraw, a 34-year-old Grammy winner, assaulted an officer in the VIP area of the George Strait Country Music Festival. Deputies say the singer and his manager interfered with officers trying to pull Chesney from a police horse they believed he had commandeered without permission. Though none of the men faced serious consequences — the maximum sentence for McGraw and his manager was a year — the defendants refused plea offers "on principle," saying they did nothing wrong that night. Their lawyer argued that it was the deputies that became violent.

Prosecutor Louis Haremski tried to attack McGraw's credibility. In closing arguments, the prosecutor told jurors he had changed his mind about McGraw and no longer considered him the "nice guy" he had called him at the beginning of the trial.

"He's a performer," the assistant district attorney said. "He thinks he can sell you."

He told the jury that a man used to playing to crowds of 50,000 and "married to one of the most beautiful women in show business" wasn't used to being told no. "It's ego," the prosecutor said. "Your little world answers to you. Well, he stepped out of his little world."

But Eoannou said the deputies had "lied through their goddamned teeth until they were blue in the face" to advance civil suits against McGraw. Referring to McGraw's recent album, which he said was written about this case, the lawyer said, "I'm going to ask you to set this circus down."