Blaney denied attempt to avoid sentence

Published 12:00 am Saturday, May 31, 2003

VIDALIA &045; A motion to reconsider part of Charlie Blaney’s sentence to serve 30 days in jail was denied by Judge Leo Boothe on Wednesday.

Blaney was found guilty on April 16 of three charges of aggravated assault due to an incident that occurred Jan. 2, 2002, in which he discharged a firearm in the presence of teenagers gathered on his field.

Boothe sentenced Blaney to six months in jail with five of those suspended. Blaney was also sentenced to 24 months probation, during which time a gun restriction will be enforced unless he uses one for hunting purposes.

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During the motion to reconsider sentence, Blaney took the stand and read a written apology to the victims and their families, the community and Boothe.

&uot;I would like to apologize to the children of that night,&uot; Blaney said during testimony. &uot;I was really upset that night and my grandson (Charlie Daniels) was threatening me.

&uot;I feel I was wrong but I didn’t create the situation to start with.&uot;

At the end of the trial on April 16, Boothe was given the opportunity to apologize to the victims and their families, all of whom were present, but apparently did not offer a satisfactory apology for Boothe to lessen the sentence.

&uot;I tried to ask forgiveness of the parish and families at that time,&uot; Blaney said.

Blaney’s attorney, Phillip Letard, took part of the blame for Blaney’s not apologizing publicly before or after the trial because he advised his client to refrain from public statements.

Pam Clayton, mother of victim Chase Clayton, and Gail Thomas, mother of victim Ryan Thomas, were the only ones involved with the case to be present for the motion.

Pam Clayton was called to the stand by Assistant District Attorney Brad Burget and commented on Blaney’s apology during the motion.

&uot;I think it’s convenient he’s doing it now instead of when the children were here,&uot; Clayton said.

Burget asked Pam Clayton how the incident has affected her son, Chase Clayton.

&uot;Chase had trouble sleeping,&uot; Pam Clayton said.

Pam Clayton also said Chase &uot;has no problems with Blaney but is scared of him.&uot;

&uot;You have to be accountable for your actions, no matter what your age is,&uot; Pam Clayton said. &uot;I feel like justice was served.&uot;

In closing arguments, Letard pointed out that Blaney is a prominent figure in the community and conscious of doing things for children in the community. Letard said he did not want this incident to overshadow Blaney’s community efforts with children.

Burget responded by saying, &uot;I have a lot of respect for Mr. Blaney. What I have a problem with is what happened on Jan. 2, 2002.&uot;

On the sentence reduction Burget said, &uot;Anything less than that takes away from the seriousness of the crime.&uot;

Letard also filed a writ of application &045; an informal appeal &045; to the Third Circuit Court of Appeal to reconsider sentence on the behalf of Blaney.