A jury will begin deliberating later today the fate of a Cherokee County man accused of a February stabbing.
Herbert Lee Potts, 45, is being tried on a charge of assault and battery with a dangerous weapon.
Potts denied the stabbing Tuesday afternoon after taking the stand in his defense. He said he didn’t know who stabbed Tracy Tedder in the back and even suggested, when asked by Assistant District Attorney David Pierce, that Tedder may have stabbed himself.
“It could have been self-inflicted,” he testified.
Potts said he initially believed he was going to jail for fighting and didn’t know it was for stabbing Tedder until arriving at the Cherokee County Detention Center. He said he never had a knife, and he could have been cleared if law enforcement had fingerprinted the knife.
Pierce said Sheriff’s Deputy Matt Richardson testified earlier Tuesday that too many other people handled the knife for law enforcement to raise fingerprints.
“I’ve been in jail for six months for something I didn’t do,” Potts said. “They’ve [witnesses] come in and brought a bunch of lies.”
Potts was asked by Pierce about a tattoo on his back that reads “100 percent Crazy.” He said he got it while in prison on a previous conviction and it was supposed to be an American flag.
Potts denied threatening any officers during his arrest. He said his comments were directed at all the officers involved, and especially the one who allegedly hit him in the mouth with a gun.
Potts became visibly upset with Pierce during questioning when the ADA asked about a conviction for failing to register as a sex offender.
“That’s a bogus conviction, and you know it,” Potts said. “They said I had to register as a sex offender, and I didn’t.”
Special District Judge Sandy Crosslin told Potts and Pierce twice to stop speaking at the same time because the court reporter could not record what both men were saying. Potts was told to answer Pierce’s questions and stop his comments.
“I’m pretty fed up with all of it,” Potts told the judge.
Pierce called as rebuttal witnesses Oklahoma Highway Patrol Troopers Rodney Vick and Tommy Mullins, both of whom were involved in Potts’ arrest after the stabbing. The troopers testified Potts exited a van with his arms outstretched and hands showing, but refused verbal orders to get on the ground.
“He said it [ground] was wet,” Mullins testified. “He kept telling us, ‘Shoot me, you M.F.s.’”
Mullins and Vick said they took Potts to the ground, but the suspect continued to resist until he was handcuffed. Vick also testified Potts told the troopers to shoot him. Both troopers said they didn’t hit Potts with a gun, but they did see him bleeding later from his mouth area.
“It could have been from when we went to the ground,” Vick testified.
Both witnesses said they have never been the subject of an excessive force complaint, and Potts didn’t file a complaint against them for this alleged incident.
Mullins said he saw Potts at the jail later, and Potts asked him which one of the officers had kicked him in the mouth. Mullins said he told Potts he didn’t see anyone kick him or hit him in the mouth. He said Potts told him he knew where the trooper lived, and recited his address. “He said he was going to burn my house with me and my kids in it,” Mullins testified.
Crosslin will read jury instructions to the panel this morning, then Pierce and defense counsel Crystal Jackson will present their closing arguments before jurors retire.
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