A federal judge has postponed until August the trial of two former Russell County sheriff's deputies charged with beating a handcuffed man, granting a request by defense attorneys who worried they would not have enough time to prepare for trial.
Kirby Dollar and Tim Watford are scheduled for trial Aug. 22 in Opelika, Ala. Both men were indicted last month on charges of deprivation of rights under color of law and released on $25,000 bond each.
They've pleaded not guilty to beating Columbus resident Patrick C. Harrington. If convicted, they face up to 10 years in federal prison.
Dollar and Watford were initially scheduled to be tried June 6. But attorneys for both sides agreed more time would be needed to go through the voluminous evidence.
"Based upon the discovery provided, extensive investigation will be necessary and multiple material witnesses will need to be interviewed in a remote part of this district," U.S. District Judge Mark E. Fuller wrote in an order Tuesday. "Because defense counsel will need adequate time to investigate and prepare for trial, it is in the interest of justice to continue this trial."
The case stems from an incident in November in which Dollar and Watford allegedly beat Harrington after he was taken into custody by bondsmen. Harrington, a career criminal who was recently sentenced to 15 years in prison for a parole violation, had been wanted on several outstanding warrants the night of the alleged beating.
He faces first-degree assault, reckless endangerment and attempting to elude charges from a crash last year in which he allegedly ran a pickup off the road in Russell County. Watford and Dollar had a history of run-ins with Harrington and, according to the lawsuit, had arranged for a bondsman to call them once Harrington was arrested.
The officers had allegedly been drinking at a party before driving to Lee County to meet Harrington.
Harrington, 32, has filed a federal civil rights suit against the former deputies, former Phenix City police officer Rachael Hauser, Phenix City and former Russell County Sheriff Tommy Boswell.
The lawsuit accuses Hauser of watching the beating. She has not been charged in the case.