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Trial pushed back in alleged jail beating case

By TRAVIS WEIK - tweik@thecouriertimes.com

Court deadlines have been rescheduled in a federal lawsuit against Henry County Sheriff Ric McCorkle.

Mooreland resident Wayne Houston claims the sheriff should be held responsible for a beating Houston received after being locked up in Henry County Jail after being arrested on New Year’s Eve 2016. 

Attorneys for both Houston and McCorkle had a phone conference Aug. 15 with United States Magistrate Judge Mark J. Dinsmore. At that time, Houston’s lawyer asked to have upcoming pretrial deadlines extended for expert witness and exhibit lists.

According to court documents, McCorkle’s lawyer didn’t offer any objection to the request.

Judge Dinsmore granted the new dates, which moves all the following dates back about a month.

Under the new schedule, the three-day jury trial is set to begin Aug. 19, 2019.

Final pretrial begins July 31, 2019.

Court documents also show Houston’s legal team withdrew a motion July 20 asking that former Henry County jail officer Matt Carlson make a deposition or face contempt of court charges.

Houston’s attorney argued in July that Carlson had failed to go on record several times about what he saw Jan. 1, 2017, when Houston was attacked and beaten by another inmate.

The attorneys told Judge Dinsmore they plan to re-serve Carlson a subpoena. 

Jail beating, sheriff sued

Houston, 63, was initially arrested New Year’s Eve 2016 for allegedly holding a child captive and beating and choking the child with a leather horse strap.

Alan Gideon, 20, beat Houston up shortly after Houston was booked into Henry County Jail. Gideon pleaded guilty Sept. 7, 2017, to battery resulting in serious bodily injury, a Level 5 Felony.

Police and medical reports the assault suggest that Houston sustained “permanent hearing loss in his right ear and vision loss in his right eye” and several fractured facial bones following the beating.

Houston filed a federal lawsuit Sept. 19, 2017, naming Sheriff McCorkle as the sole defendant because he is the county sheriff and is responsible for the day-to-day activities within the jail.

McCorkle said there was no way for him or anyone working in the jail to know that Houston would have been attacked. McCorkle also denies Houston’s claim that jail staff didn’t try to stop the attack.

Houston’s attorney is requesting $75,000 to fully compensate his client for personal injuries and “just and proper” relief.