The new “key witness”, named last week in the now almost two year old Rob Bennett case, has released a statement to the Thomaston Times
The witness, Dick Barnes, an Upson Regional Medical Center employee and father-in-law of Assistant District Attorney Heath English, released the statement Sunday June 24, after he was identified as the material witness on local radio station WTGA earlier in the week.
Developments in the case concerning the 2004 stabbing death of the local banker prompted District Attorney Scott Ballard to call a press conference the afternoon of June 20, to announce another prosecutor would take his place. At the time of the conference, Ballard could not say what the new evidence was, or to whom the witness was related. However, he did identify the witness as male and a resident of Upson County.
In a written statement to The Thomaston Times, Barnes does not explain his role in the case, but does shed light on the reason for his involvement in the late breaking developments.
The statement reads as follows;
“Last week I was identified as a ‘material witness' who had just come forward in the David Colwell case. The fact of the matter is, I did not ‘just come forward.' I gave investigators information the day the incident occurred. The information I shared with a local investigator and the GBI was something that I felt might be relevant to either the Prosecution or the Defense.
“Because of the seriousness of the situation and the fact that I am a former criminal investigator, I felt that it was my ethical responsibility to share the information. Due to the fact that I had not been contacted to be interviewed by either side, I assumed that this information was not pertinent to the case.
The nature of my work and the confidentiality of my son-in-law's work prohibited us discussing the case. I was not aware until two weeks ago that neither the Defense nor the Prosecution had not received this information.
The tragic death of Rob Bennett has affected many people in our community. I sincerely hope that a resolution will be forthcoming.”
Ballard, who could not be reached for a response on the the Barnes statement, had planned to take the case back to the Grand Jury in March, but the case was still held up in appeals.
The time frame for reappointment of a new prosecutor is dependent on the States Attorney General's office. According to Ballard, the procedure is to write a letter to the AG's office and that will start the re-appointment process. It could take a few days or it could take longer.
David Colwell, Brian Huff and Russ Stewart were indicted by the Grand Jury in March 2005 in the Bennett Case.
Colwell was indicted for voluntary manslaughter. Huff was indicted on charges of involuntary manslaughter, DUI, driving with an unsafe alcohol concentration and violation of Georgia's Open Container Law. Stewart was indicted on the misdemeanor charge of simple assault