County court clears plea agreement, two short trials
by GREG KAYLOR, Banner Staff Writer
Aug 19, 2010 | 2410 views | 0 0 comments | 14 14 recommendations | email to a friend | print
A number of Bradley County Criminal Court cases were cleared during the past few days, including plea agreements and two short trials.

Christopher Sturgeon was found guilty of felony reckless endangerment and DUI for the February 2008 vehicle crash which injured a Charleston police officer and two suspects the officer was transporting to the Bradley County Jail.

Officer Anthony Anderson had been traveling south on Highway 11 when Sturgeon’s pickup truck crossed the center line near the intersection of Walker Valley Road and struck the Charleston Police cruiser.

Anderson suffered hip and leg injuries and the suspect suffered only minor injuries. During a jury trial, Sturgeon was found to have been turning onto Walker Valley Road, headed northbound on Highway 11.

This was testimony from members of the Tennessee Highway Patrol Critical Incident Response Team members who were in charge of the investigation.

Testimony revealed there were no signs of braking from either vehicle and both Sturgeon and Anderson were traveling within the posted speed limit.

The jury heard Blood Alcohol Content evidence presented by TBI laboratory specialists which determined Sturgeon was under the influence of alcohol at the time of the crash.

Sturgeon will face sentencing later and also faces $4,500 in fines, according to court documents.

n Jason Cole, a former city of Cleveland building inspector, pleaded guilty to wiretapping and capturing electronic transmissions in an investigation which showed incidents occurred between Jan. 1, 2009 and Jan. 8, 2010.

Judge Carroll Ross granted a judicial diversion and sentenced Cole to a two-year suspended sentence.

Cole waived his rights to a jury trial and entered his plea through attorney James Logan.

Cole reportedly used city computers to access his ex-wife’s e-mail and to track her whereabouts without her knowledge.

An indictment stated Cole did this with intent to “obtain advantage in a marital dissolution agreement.”

n Keisha M. Howard is expected to stand trial for allegedly taking more than $60,000 from a business in which she was employed.

Howard, 38, was arrested and charged by Bradley County detective Kevin White after he was informed by detectives Zech Pike and Joe Musselwhite that she had allegedly taken money from Outland Travel located on Waterlevel Highway.

According to an affidavit file by White, Howard was a five-year accountant at the business.

Donna Davis told the investigators that Howard was in charge of daily accounts payable and receivables.

Davis also said that after looking over bank records she allegedly found “numerous transactions involving cash that was never deposited into her bank account.”

Howard, according to the affidavit, was confronted by Davis regarding the incidents.

Howard is also accused of allegedly taking “files and receipt books, which all contained records of cash transactions.”

A trial is set for Nov. 16.

n Buddy Franklin Ricketts, 34, pleaded guilty to two counts of reckless endangerment and one count of criminally negligent homicide in the June 15, 2009, car crash death of Haley Valenzuela.

Jacob Taylor and Shyann Destiny Forgey both were injured. All were minor children.

Ricketts had served approximately three months in jail since his indictment was served, according to the court.

Ricketts was sentenced to four years on Tennessee Department of Corrections probation, waiving his rights to a jury trial and appeals.

n Jeffrey Franklin Wright pleaded guilty to methamphetamine charges and was placed on probation.

Wright is not the same Jeffrey Wright who was allegedly involved in a recent Union Road barn burglary where Michael Wampler was reportedly charged, according to reports filed by deputies Brandon Edwards and Nathan Headrick. Wright’s attorney of record was Shari Tayloe.