Gould mayor convicted of 1 misdemeanor battery count

STAR CITY – Gould Mayor Earnest Nash Jr. was convicted of one misdemeanor count of battery in the third-degree and acquitted of two additional misdemeanor charges Wednesday in Lincoln County District Court.

Dallas County District Judge Ronnie Phillips, who served as a special judge and heard the three charges lodged against Nash, assessed a fine and court costs of $615 on the battery conviction. Nash has 30 days to pay the fine and costs or file an appeal with the Lincoln County Circuit Court.

Nash, who did not testify Wednesday in his defense, was charged with the battery counts stemming from a Feb. 21 altercation at City Hall involving then-Alderman Harry Hall and Pamela Barley-Gibson, the city’s recorder-treasurer.

As Nash was being arrested and handcuffed April 3 on the battery warrants, Lincoln County Deputy Sheriff Justin Nealy testified Wednesday the mayor shouted threats at Barley-Gibson as she drove past. The threats resulted in the third charge, terroristic threatening, being lodged against Nash.

Nash has been free on a $1,935 bond, including $1,480 on the assault charges. Phillips ruled that he heard sufficient testimony that was corroborated by a video to warrant the conviction on the assault charge involving Barley-Gibson. However, he said the assault charge involving Hall, who has since resigned from the Gould City Council, was not as convincing, noting that Hall held a coffee cup in his hand during the time he testified he was stuck by Nash.

The comments Nash directed at Barley-Gibson during his arrest on a Gould street did not meet the definition of a terroristic threat, Phillips ruled.

Phillips described the feuding at Gould City Hall as an “unfortunate situation” that has “spilled over into the judicial system.”

Barley-Gibson was appointed recorder-treasurer three different times by four members of the city council since December, but Nash vetoed each appointment. A majority of the council maintained Nash has locked Barley-Gibson out of her City Hall office.

Barley-Gibson and Hall testified they were assaulted by Nash when they went to City Hall to gain access to the recorder-treasurer’s office. Nash has repeatedly denied assaulting Hall and Barley-Gibson during the confrontation.

Nash “grabbed me by my left arm … and slung me,” Barley-Gibson testified Wednesday, into locksmith Glen Palmer of Monticello. She said Nash then “pushed Mr. Hall by his neck.”

Both Hall and Barley-Gibson testified they sought medical treatment after being assaulted by Nash.

Palmer testified that Nash entered the City Hall office the locksmith had opened “yelling, hollering and pushing,” then grabbed Barley-Gibson “and slung her across the room.”

Three city employees, Frank Jones, Carl James and Clara Jackson, testified they witnessed a verbal dispute at City Hall, but didn’t see anyone shoved or pushed.

Phillips indicated he put more weight on Palmer’s testimony because he was not involved in the differences in Gould. The judge also noted that a video made of the confrontation proved “helpful.”

Nash was charged March 29 with obstructing governmental operations, theft of property, abuse of office and two counts of nonfeasance in office, and was ordered to appear in Lincoln County Circuit Court. He could be removed from office if convicted, according to Prosecuting Attorney Kyle Hunter.

On July 9, Circuit Judge Rob Wyatt refused to reject key state evidence in the five criminal charges that were pending against Nash. Wyatt did agree to severe two counts for a separate jury trial and indicated Nash would go on trial Aug. 13 on one set of the charges.