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Public Notices

April 24, 2014

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Jury Finds Teacher Not Guilty Of DUI

Originally published:
Last modified: 2009-04-01 12:10:13

A Greene County Criminal Court jury took only about 10 minutes to find a Greene County school teacher not guilty of a DUI charge following a day-long trial on Monday.

Samuel Earnest Broyles, 33, of 900 Charles Johnson Road, had been charged by Greeneville police early last Aug. 25 with DUI following a traffic stop on the East Andrew Johnson Highway.

The jury of seven women and five men, which retired to deliberate at 4:50 p.m., and signaled at about 5 p.m. that it had reached a verdict. At 5:03 p.m., the jury was brought back to the courtroom, and its foreman announced that it had found Broyles not guilty of the DUI charge.

Before the jury retired, Judge James E. Beckner, who had presided over the day-long trial at the Greene County Courthouse, had told the jurors that he had to leave at 5 p.m. for an appointment and that the jury would be brought back today if could not reach a verdict by 5 p.m.

He also excused one juror who had to take his wife to a medical appointment today and replaced that juror with an alternate before the panel retired to deliberate.

Three Officers Testified

The arresting officer and two corrections officers testified that they had either smelled alcohol about Broyles person following his Aug. 25, 2005, arrest or had seen other evidence that indicated he was intoxicated when he was brought to the Greene County Detention Center.

During testimony in his own defense, however, Broyles denied that he had consumed alcohol on the night he was arrested last August and, in fact, had never consumed alcohol.

He said he is a physical education teacher at McDonald Elementary School and had been a driver's education teacher for only about two weeks at South Greene High School when he was charged with DUI last Aug. 25.

Following his arrest on the DUI charge, Broyles said, he lost his driver's education position and was transferred back to McDonald Elementary School.

Broyles maintained that he had not consumed alcohol prior to the early morning traffic stop near the Johnny's Market on the East Andrew Johnson Highway by GPD Officer David Thacker.

Thacker testified that he stopped Broyles' Pontiac Firebird automobile for speeding and alleged erratic driving on the East Andrew Johnson Highway after detecting it traveling 60 miles per hour in a 45-mile-per-hour zone.

The car had been slow to react to the blue lights of his patrol car and traveled some four-tenths of a mile in the emergency lane of the highway before coming to a stop, according to testimony.

After Broyles "performed poorly" on a field sobriety test, Thacker said, he was arrested and taken to Laughlin Memorial Hospital, where he was asked to submit to a blood test to determine the level of alcohol in his blood stream.

But Broyles refused to take the test, Officer Thacker testified.

While testifying in his own defense, Broyles maintained that he felt he performed acceptably on the three field sobriety tests administered by Officer Thacker and that he had requested to be allowed to take a "breathalyzer" test instead of a blood test.

Broyles maintained during his testimony that it made "no sense" to him to take the blood test because the results would not be known for some time and that Thacker told him he would be taken to jail after he took the blood test anyway.

He said he had thought that if a breathalyzer test indicated that he had no alcohol in his blood that he would be released from custody that night.

After the jury returned its not-guilty verdict on the DUI charge and left the court room, Judge Beckner called Broyles forward and told him he was free to go on the DUI charge, but that his driver's license was being suspended for 12 months.

State law requires only that the state prove that he had refused to take the blood test to determine the level of alcohol in his blood when offered the opportunity to do so, the judge said.

Many Character Witnesses

The jury apparently was swayed by Broyles' testimony in his own defense and that of 14 character witnesses who were called on Broyles behalf by defense attorney Roger Woolsey.

The character witnesses included a veritable "who's who" of Greene County's governmental and educational circles.

Among those testifying that they had never known Broyles to drink alcohol were: Greene County Mayor Roger Jones; Richard Morrison, chairman of the Greene County Board of Education; County School board member Tim Armstrong; County Commissioner John D. Carter; and County Commissioner and McDonald Elementary School Principal Clark Justis.

Dr. Orville Ward Swarner, who testified that Broyles often mowed his lawn, told the jury that he had treated Broyles twice for severe eye allergies that he said he believed were related to grasses and weeds that Broyles encountered in mowing lawns.

County Mayor Jones described Broyles, in response to a question from defense attorney Woolsey, as "squeaky clean" and as a "very polite young man."

Asked by Woolsey if he had ever known Broyles to drink alcohol, Jones replied "no sir."

The county mayor also told the jury in response to a question from Assistant District Attorney Eric Christiansen during cross-examination that: "I wouldn't be here today if I didn't think Sam Broyles was innocent."

Justis told the jury that he had known Broyles "ever since he has been in the world."

Asked by Woolsey if Broyles' reputation was good or bad, Justis replied "good."

Asked if he felt Broyles was honest, Justis said, "I've never known him to lie."

When asked about Broyles' reputation in the community, County School Board Member Armstrong told the jury, "Sam is like gold."

Asked by defense attorney Woolsey what Broyles' reputation was in the community concerning alcohol use, Armstrong said, "The two are never associated. Alcohol and Sam don't go together."

John Burgess, who said he was a Greeneville Middle School teacher, told the jury that he had known Sam Broyles for 25 years. Asked by Woolsey if he believed Broyles was entitled to be believed by the jury, Burgess said, "Yes, I do."

County Commissioner Carter told the jury that he had known Broyles "all of his life." He said Broyles had a "good" reputation in the community, and that he had never seen Broyles drink alcohol.

County School Board Chairman Morrison told the jury that he also had known Sam Broyles "all his life."

Morrison noted that Broyles had mowed his lawn "every Saturday for seven years." During that time, Morrison said, he had never seen Broyles drink alcohol.

In response to questions from Assistant District Attorney Christiansen, all the character witnesses who testified for Broyles also said they had no reason to doubt the word of the officers who testified in the case.

Other witnesses who testified for Broyles on Monday afternoon were: an employee of Broyles' lawn maintenance business; his girlfriend and her parents; and the driver of the tow truck that towed Broyles car on the night of his arrest.
For more information and stories, see The Greeneville Sun.

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