Former Franklin County Sheriff gets sentencing date, asks for acquittal and new trial

River Valley News

Former Franklin County Sheriff’s Anthony Boen booked into the Washington County jail in Fayetteville, AR. | Courtesy: Washington County Sheriff’s Office

FORT SMITH, Ark. (KNWA/KFTA) — On October 25, the U.S. Western District Court of Arkansas announced a sentencing date for Anthony Boen, the former Franklin County Sheriff. His sentencing is set for January 12, 2022, in the federal courtroom of District Judge Timothy L. Brooks.

Boen was found guilty on August 6 of two counts of violating the civil rights of inmates by using unreasonable force. A federal jury found the former Sheriff guilty on two of the three counts he faced. Boen could face up to 20 years in prison and up to a $250,000 fine.

The first guilty count stems from November 21, 2018, when Boen slammed a detainee onto the floor and ripped his hair out during an interrogation. Then on December 3, 2018, Boen struck a second detainee multiple times in the head with a closed fist while the detainee was sitting on the floor and shackled to a bench inside the Franklin County Jail.

Former Franklin County Sheriff’s Anthony Boen booked into the Washington County jail in Fayetteville, AR. | Courtesy: Washington County Sheriff’s Office

Two weeks after the verdict, Boen’s attorneys filed an instant motion under Federal Rules of Evidence, challenging the sufficiency of the evidence supporting his conviction. On September 28, the Plaintiff filed a Response in Opposition to that motion. The October 21 defense filing is a reply to that response.

Attorneys for Boen filed a motion for acquittal or a new trial due to conflicting testimony by witnesses during the trial. In the filing, attorneys from The Wood Law Firm in Russellville allege that “conflicting testimony and the physical impossibility of some of the allegations” requires that their motion be granted “in the interests of justice.”

The October 21 filing states that “the jury heard testimony from multiple witnesses, presenting conflicting and often outright contradictory evidence.” The filing quotes witness testimony that “is in direct contradiction to the two other Government witnesses,” regarding how the first victim ended up on the floor.

In a September 28 response, the Plaintiff explains that “the jury’s verdict was supported by testimony from 15 witnesses, including multiple eyewitnesses to each of the assaults.” The government also introduced documentary evidence of the policies and procedures at the Franklin County Sheriff’s office pertaining to officers’ use of force and their conduct during interrogations.

The defense filing calls witness testimony about Boen pulling the victim’s hair “clearly contradictory,” stating that the victim never testified that his hair was pulled, and only stated such “at the Government’s prompting.” The plaintiff’s response states that the victim testified that the assault ripped out “a substantial amount of (his) hair.”

The defense motion continues to allege contradictory testimony related to the second charge on which Boen was found guilty, citing a previous case ruling establishing that “a verdict cannot be based on evidence which cannot possibly be true.”

There is no way that the Government could establish that Sheriff Boen could have even reached (the victim), much less actually struck him or caused any injury because it goes against physical facts.

Russell A. Wood, attorney for Anthony Boen

The motion concludes by stating that Boen did not injure the second victim, and that “all of the witnesses confirmed that any injuries which (he) may have acquired were present before the Sheriff arrived at the jail.”

The Plaintiff’s response notes that a witness testified to seeing Boen “lean into the cell and strike (the victim) four or five times with a closed fist on the right side of (his) face while yelling angrily at him.”

“Both counts of conviction are supported by significant evidence that clearly establishes – as the Court previously found in response to the defendant’s directed verdict motion at the close of the Government’s case – that a rational jury, drawing inferences in favor of the Government, could find the defendant guilty,” plaintiff’s court filing shows.

The Plaintiff’s motion states that the defense request “ignores both the significant evidence of guilt and the high standard for overturning a jury’s verdict after trial.”

“Drawing inferences in favor of the verdict, the evidence of visible blood on Greene’s face immediately after Boen’s assault – several hours after the altercation with the trustee – is an additional factual justification for the jury’s determination that Boen inflicted bodily injury and shows that reversal is not required to avoid a miscarriage of justice,” the government’s court filing shows.

The decision on Boen’s motion is now in the hands of the court.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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