Albany man kept bound and gagged for second day of trial - WALB.com, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

Albany man kept bound and gagged for second day of trial

The trial resumed today for an Albany man who's bound and gagged during the proceedings.

Reginald Smith, charged with pulling a gun on a police officer, refuses to sit quietly while his case is heard.

So he's being tried in absentia, and that's something that rarely happens.

Thursday afternoon Reginald Smith was brought back into the courtroom bound and gagged, and offered the chance to testify.

But he made it clear he didn't want to talk by vigorously shaking his head.  And then in front of the jury made so much noise he was taken out of the courtroom again.

Reginald Smith is bound in a restraint chair and gagged with several layers of cloth and duct tape, but is still able to make a lot of noise. That is why for the second day,most of his trial, he is kept out of the courtroom.

 Senior Judge Loring Gray said "It's a very rare case where you see it come to this kind of restraint."

Judge Loring Gray says there are well laid out court procedures for handling a defendant like Smith. He was ruled mentally competent to stand trial, and Judge Willie Lockette warned Smith what would happen if he continued to disrupt the trial.

Five times yesterday and three times today Smith was taken back into the courtroom and given the chance to be untied, but each time he refused.

Smith was taken to a holding cell near the courtroom where he was kept tied, but the gag was removed, following federally mandated guidelines to protect him.

Sheriff Sproul said "this chair has been approved by the Department of Justice. It's a restraint chair where every 15 minutes a certain limb has to be released from the chair. We have a registered nurse with Phoebe Medical, that works our jail, there."

Defense attorneys say Smith's actions and absence from the courtroom is only hurting his chance for acquittal.

Attorney Jerry Brimberry said " He's really committing judicial suicide, is what it amounts to."

 Gray said "You have to protect his right on confrontation under the Sixth Amendment. His right to confront the witnesses that testify against him. A constitutional right but one that can be given up."

 Sproul said "We are going to make sure he gets a fair trial."

Even if Smith doesn't want one.

The jury has been in the courtroom at least twice during the trial while Smith was tied and gagged.

Both times the Judge instructed the jury to decide the trial on the evidence not on Smith's behavior.

Prosecutors finished testimony Thursday afternoon, and Smith refused to testify. The jury is being charged.


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