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Former deputy testifies in own defense in stun-death trial

Published: Oct. 20, 2021 at 6:47 PM EDT|Updated: Oct. 20, 2021 at 6:54 PM EDT
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SANDERSVILLE, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) - We’re one step closer to closing arguments in the murder trial of three former deputies in Washington County.

On Wednesday, one of the deputies took the stand to testify in his own defense during the murder trial in the 2017 death of Eurie Martin, who died after being shocked multiple times while walking on a road in Washington County. Martin’s family says he had a history of mental problems and was walking to visit his family.

During former Deputy Michael Howell’s testimony, the defense played his body cam video. Howell didn’t actually deploy a stun gun during the incident – he wasn’t even equipped with one. The two other deputies, Rhett Scott and Henry Copeland, did.

“He had like a I mean a [look] like he could see through you, what I felt like. I mean, an evil look,” Howell said as he described his encounter with Eurie Martin.

He says when he got there, he had no intention of arresting Martin. Eventually, he called for backup and Copeland showed up. At one point in a video of the incident, you can hear Howell tell Copeland to quote “Tase his [expletive].”

During cross-examination, prosecutor Kelly Weathers questioned Howell on why he felt he had authority to arrest Martin in the first place, pointing out that Martin was in fact following state law by walking toward incoming traffic on a two lane road.

Earlier Wednesday, Mark Kroll, electrical weapons expert and biomedical professor took the stand.

He spoke about the history of stun guns and electricity. He said electrocution is death by electricity and that Martin’s death was not an electrocution.

He said no one has ever been electrocuted from a stun gun.

The most common risk factors from stun guns are falling (resulting in head trauma), the probe hitting a subject’s eye and fire or spark, he said.

Testifying that risks are rare, he said death after a shock does not mean the stun gun was the cause.

He said previous medical conditions such as heart disease do not impact the intensity of shock or the risk of death.

Also taking the stand Wednesday was Michael Graham, a forensic pathologist.

He testified that a stun gun is not considered a deadly weapon because the number of deaths related to a stun gun is not high enough to conclude that it is deadly force. He says a homicide ruling by a medical examiner does not necessarily mean murder.

Former Deputy Rhett Scott is expected to take the stand Thursday.

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