Ex-Lobbyist Beason Guilty of Simple Assault in Road Dispute Involving Pistol
Posted October 30, 2007 10:37 a.m. EDT
Updated October 30, 2007 9:17 p.m. EDT
Raleigh, N.C. — Don Beason, a former State Capitol lobbyist who was linked to the scandal involving former House Speaker Jim Black, was found guilty Tuesday of simple assault, ending his trial on a more serious charge of assault with a firearm for brandishing a gun during a traffic confrontation July 6.
Wake County Chief District Court Judge Joyce Hamilton ruled in Beason's non-jury trial after a day of testimony. She sentenced Beason to 100 hours of community service and continued judgment for 12 months, which would allow Beason to apply to have the conviction vacated then.
Beason had been charged with assault with a firearm.
In court Tuesday, Jason Batten said he and his fiancee, Chrisy Tellis, were driving to a gas station on Oberlin Road to get some headache medicine when his vehicle was in front of Beason's pickup at a stop light. He said Beason pressed down on the truck's horn for a long period of time.
Batten said that when he walked to Beason's vehicle, Beason pulled out a holstered handgun and held it up toward the passenger-side window for a couple of seconds before laying it on the passenger seat.
Beason testified that Batten grabbed his door handle and shook it and that he thought Batten was going to get into his car. He said he was defending himself.
"I was fearful he would do me bodily harm," Beason said.
Batten said "he was a little fearful" and backed away from the truck with his hands up until the gun was put down on the seat. He later walked behind the truck and wrote down Beason's registration number.
The couple called police as Beason drove off, and they pulled over Beason and cited. Batten said he did not know Beason prior to the incident. Police said Beason had a permit for the handgun.
On cross-examination, Bob Hensley, Beason's attorney, said the arresting officer's report indicated that Beason did not point the gun at Batten. Hensley also raised the point in cross-examination that Batten told WRAL when the story was first reported that "it was blown out of proportion." Hensley also said Batten told WRAL at the time that the gun was not directly pointed at him.
Hensley said that Beason saw Batten make a "evil gesture" toward him and heard him yell an obsecenity. Batten denied that on the stand.
Wake Assistant District Attorney Matt Godwin argued in a pre-trial motion to allow evidence of another incident where he said Beason "brandished" a gun to another victim in a "show of force." He said the incident did not rise to level of "assault by pointing a gun."
Godwin said that incident was not reported to police, and Beason was not charged.
The former lobbyist came under fire after authorities identified him as the person who provided a $500,000 loan to Black. The loan, which went through Black's campaign account, was uncovered as Black was sentenced on a federal corruption charge that stemmed from illegal cash payments he received from chiropractors.