Jury delivers quick verdict in Hadley case: Not guilty

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, December 20, 2005

After a day of testimony taken from six people on Monday, it took a Butler County circuit court jury less than 10 minutes early Tuesday to deliver a not guilty verdict for county sheriff's deputy Kenneth Hadley, who was charged with obstructing governmental operations.

Hadley had been arrested, charged and later indicted by a Butler County grand jury for the Class A misdemeanor in which he allegedly revealed the name of a confidential informant, who was identified as O'Neal Lowery, to Greenville attorney Brandon Sellers to intentionally prevent a sheriff's investigator from performing his duty.

Assistant Attorney General Don McMillian, who prosecuted the case, argued that Hadley gave up the name of the confidential source out of revenge for the alleged complaints that had been made by fellow sheriff's deputies against Hadley after he had been promoted to chief deputy by Sheriff Diane Harris.

McMillian also presented testimony from former Butler County sheriff deputies Ronnie Terry and Mike Holmes who said that another confidential informant, who was identified as Chris Brown, had been revealed.

&#8220I felt like we had a strong case with the evidence we presented,” McMillian said.

Terry testified that he had met with Greenville attorney Charlotte Tesmer about some &#8220personal” issues and that Tesmer mentioned Brown's name. Terry then said that he &#8220turned white” and assumed that his confidential informant's identity had been blown.

But Tesmer later testified that she had been pursuing Brown for a separate case in Crenshaw County.

&#8220I just wanted (Terry) to arrest him to help with my case,” Tesmer said on Monday.

During the day's closing arguments, Hadley's defense attorney McGowin Williamson characterized the whole incident as a &#8220rush to judgment,” and the jury obviously agreed with a not guilty verdict.

Hadley remains on administrative leave with pay from the sheriff's office, while he awaits a court date for the felony count of intimidating a witness, Harris said.

&#8220Until I know the outcome of that, then I'll know what his future will be with the sheriff's office,” she said. &#8220But I was not surprised by the outcome today because of the evidence that was presented.”

A Butler County grand jury indicted Hadley on Sept. 13 for allegedly threatening a witness or someone he believed would be called as a witness, to corrupt a person's testimony before a Butler County grand jury.

Discussion among attorneys and Butler County Circuit Court Judge Edward McFerrin, who heard Hadley's case, indicated that the Class C felony charge might be dropped.

&#8220No final decision has been made yet,” said state attorney general spokeswoman Suzanne Webb.