Count Of Reckless
Is The Decision
BY KEN LITTLE
A Greene County Criminal Court jury Thursday found state Rep. David Hawk guilty of misdemeanor reckless endangerment in connection with injuries suffered by his then-wife, Crystal Goan, during an altercation between the two on March 18, 2012.
The seven-woman, five-man jury deliberated about 10 hours on Wednesday and Thursday before returning with the guilty verdict on the misdemeanor charge on Thursday afternoon.
According to state law, a misdemeanor count of reckless endangerment involves a defendant who engages "in conduct which placed or might have placed another person in imminent danger of death or serious bodily injury."
The jury deadlocked on a misdemeanor assault charge against Hawk. That charge will not be pursued further, court officials said.
Senior Judge Paul G. Summers set an Oct. 31 sentencing date for Hawk, 45, a six-term state lawmaker from Greeneville.
A judicial diversion hearing for Hawk is also scheduled on that date.
If Summers finds Hawk eligible for judicial diversion, he could be eligible to have the reckless endangerment conviction eventually expunged from his criminal record.
Goan and Hawk finalized their divorce last week.
HAWK WILL APPEAL
Hawk said after the close of proceedings on Thursday that he would appeal the verdict. He remains free on bond.
He made the statement in a brief impromptu meeting with several area news media representatives who were present in the courtroom and approached him after the trial was adjourned.
He also said in the brief meeting after the trial adjourned that the misdemeanor reckless endangerment conviction will not affect his ability to serve in the Tennessee General Assembly.
He is expected to run for re-election to a seventh General Assembly term in 2014.
"As always, throughout the process, I have maintained my innocence," Hawk said.
"We're going to continue to maintain our innocence and work hard on our appeal on the situation and go forward."
Hawk told the media representatives after the trial adjourned that he was "disappointed" with the verdict of the jury, whose members had been deadlocked on both charges when they were sent home for the night about 9 p.m. Wednesday.
The jury foreman told Summers then, after several hours of deliberation, that the jurors had not been able to reach a consensus on either charge.
In response, Summers, a former state attorney general who was appointed to preside over the Hawk case, asked the jury to reconsider the opinions of other members, refocus overnight, and renew their deliberations Thursday.
The jurors began deliberations again about 8:30 a.m. Thursday and came back with the verdict just after 2 p.m.
JURY 'IS ALWAYS RIGHT'
Joseph Baugh, a former district attorney general of the 21st Judicial District, was appointed as a district attorney general pro tem to prosecute the Hawk case.
"I'm glad they came to a verdict. The jury is always right," said Baugh, of Franklin.
Goan, a Greeneville lawyer, testified Tuesday that she suffered lasting injuries caused by Hawk during the altercation in March 2012. She was not in the courtroom when the verdict was announced.
Goan's legal assistant, Farah Nelson, also offered prosecution testimony at the trial and was present when the verdict came in Thursday afternoon.
Nelson, who testified that she had also been a friend of David Hawk after he married Goan in 2009, sat with Goan's parents, James and Judy Goan.
Nelson said she believes that justice was rendered by the verdict.
"Yes, absolutely," she said in response to a question after the close of proceedings Thursday.
PROGRESSION OF CHARGES
Hawk was initially charged with domestic assault in connection with events on March 17-18, 2012, at the Tusculum home he shared with Goan and their child.
Sheriff's Deputy Michael MacDonald investigated the incident and testified at trial that he found Hawk to be the "primary aggressor" in the altercation.
MacDonald sat with Baugh at the prosecution table throughout the four-day trial.
A Greene County Grand Jury issued a no-true bill in November 2012 on the original domestic assault charge, but indicted Hawk on a felony count of reckless endangerment.
Summers approved a motion by Baugh earlier this year to amend the felony reckless endangerment charge to a felony count of aggravated assault.
But at trial this week, Summers ruled in favor of a motion by defense lawyer Wade Davies to dismiss the aggravated assault charge on the grounds that the state failed to present sufficient proof to justify that offense.
Davies and W. Thomas Dillard continue to represent Hawk.
Since the aggravated assault charge had been dismissed, Summers instructed the jurors to consider convicting Hawk on either the misdemeanor reckless endangerment charge or a misdemeanor assault charge, or to acquit him on one or both of those charges.
Since his arrest on March 18, 2012, Hawk has repeatedly said that he did not injure Goan.
He said after his arrest and in trial testimony this week that Goan pointed a handgun at him just before he left the couple's West Ridgefield Court home with their daughter, who was 11 months old at the time.
Goan testified at trial this week that Hawk became enraged after finding a text message on her cellphone.
Trial evidence showed that the message had been sent by Johnson City lawyer Thomas C. Jessee, who represented Goan in an unrelated civil lawsuit in federal court in 2011 involving her first husband, James Roy Klumb.
Evidence presented at the trial showed that Jessee sent a text message that Hawk discovered on Goan's cellphone late in the evening of March 17, 2012.
A trial exhibit showed that the cellphone message invited Goan to "go to Paris" with the sender, who texted that she "deserved better."
The message concluded, "Sleep well, but dream of me tonight."
Goan testified that, after reading the message, Hawk dragged her out of bed, causing her head to hit the floor.
Hawk then locked himself in the baby's room for the night and wouldn't let Goan in, she testified.
Later on the morning of March 18, Goan testified, she was able to get in the room and take the baby downstairs to feed her.
Goan said that, while feeding the baby on a downstairs couch, Hawk reached in and grabbed the 11-month-old with one hand while striking her in the face with his other hand, causing what Baugh called a "goose-knot"-type injury to her right cheekbone.
Hawk, on the other hand, testified that he was "very concerned" about the message but felt "no rage."
He said he awakened Goan after finding the text message and she told him she could explain.
He said he told her, "Look, this is just wrong. I don't know what this is all about."
About that time, he continued, he heard the baby monitor go off, and went to the baby's upstairs bedroom to "comfort" her.
He said that Goan followed him upstairs, but he locked the bedroom door because "I was concerned she was going to start something."
He said that Goan found a way to get into the bedroom about 7 a.m. on March 18, took the baby downstairs, and began feeding her with a bottle.
After feeding her, Goan laid the baby on a couch, he said, and he picked the baby up and moved toward the front door.
There, he said, there was a confrontation with Goan. He testified that, when he saw her pick up a gun and point it at him, he "shot out the door" and went to a neighbor's house.
Davies and Dillard attacked the credibility of Goan's testimony, while Baugh questioned the believability of Hawk's account of events.
Hawk's claim that his wife had a gun was not substantiated by sheriff's deputies or others who testified during the trial.
The initial criminal complaint filed against Hawk alleged that he grabbed Goan by the arm, "striking her in the face, causing injury and knocking her to the ground."
Goan "had bruising and swelling on and around her right eye, an abrasion [to] the upper and lower right side of her lip, and a large bruise on her left upper arm," the complaint states.
In defense attorney Dillard's closing statement to the jury on Hawk's behalf, Dillard said that he was a "faithful husband" who only sought to protect his daughter.
Dillard stated that "we don't know" who inflicted the injuries on Goan, adding, "But David Hawk told you, he did not do that."