By MELINDA WILLIAMS
It took a jury just 20 minutes Friday to acquit a Pulaski man of pushing another man down a flight of 15 steps in 2012.
Christopher Duane Farris was charged with maliciously wounding Jeremiah Callahan July 19, 2012 during a confrontation at the Skyline Court apartment where Callahan was living.
Callahan testified that Farris and his wife were arguing with another couple over a needle and syringe when he arrived at the apartment that day. He said he made a comment to them and started up the stairs to his room when Farris bolted up the steps after him, saying “don’t talk to my wife like that.”
According to Callahan, Farris shoved him against the wall and punched him in the eye. He said he put his arm up to block Farris and Farris grabbed his arm and threw him down the steps.
Both Callahan and his witness, Jessica Slusher, testified Callahan went airborne and never touched a single step before he landed head first on a linoleum-covered cement slab at the foot of the steps. They said his head also struck a metal threshold.
Callahan said he suffered several fractures including a “cracked skull” and was hospitalized for three days.
Although Callahan tested positive for Methadone and Benzodiazepine at the hospital, he denied being under the influence of drugs the day of the altercation. He said it had been two days since he used the drugs. According to testimony, Callahan didn’t have prescriptions for either drug.
Callahan claimed the syringe the couples were arguing about belonged to them, but he acknowledged on cross-examination by Farris’ attorney that he used syringes to inject the Methadone.
Slusher testified the argument was over some missing DVDs rather than a syringe.
Slusher and Callahan said Farris and his wife fled the scene with no interest in Callahan’s wellbeing.
Pulaski Police Officer Jimmy Stump, who responded to the apartment, said the Farrises were gone when he arrived on the scene about two minutes after receiving the call. He said he was unable to find Farris for a couple of weeks.
Farris’ wife, August, said Callahan was already at the apartment when they arrived. She said the argument was over her having moved a syringe in Callahan’s room so that it would not be within reach of children who were present at the apartment.
She said Callahan got mad because she moved the syringe and started arguing with her, so she told her husband she was ready to leave. She testified her husband was going upstairs to get his shirt so they could leave when he and Callahan started arguing.
Autumn Farris said she couldn’t see what was happening at the top of the steps, but “The next thing I knew Jeremiah came tumbling down the steps. I guess he fell.” She denied Callahan was airborne, saying he “sounded like a bowling ball” rolling down the steps.
According to Autumn Farris’ testimony, Christopher Farris wanted to call the police, but she told him she wanted to leave so they wouldn’t get involved in the drama. She said Callahan fell when he swung at Christopher and Christopher ducked.
Christopher said he never even made it to the top of the stairs before Callahan confronted him. He also testified that Callahan fell while swinging at him.
Farris said he was concerned about Callahan’s condition, but they were told to leave and his wife wanted to leave, so he did.
Both Farrises testified they went right home, but Officer Stump said they weren’t there when he went looking for Christopher. Christopher said he went to North Carolina a few days later because “people were threatening to have me locked up.”
The Farrises said they are now separated and going through a custody battle, but the prosecution questioned the contention between them, pointing out Autumn had lunch with Christopher during the lunch break.
Pulaski County Circuit Court Judge Marcus Long Jr. denied a motion by the defense to dismiss the charge prior to sending it to the jury, saying it is up to the jury to determine credibility of the witnesses. He pointed out there were some “fairly sizeable discrepancies” in the prosecution and defense cases.