SAVANNAH, Tenn. (AP) - A West Tennessee jury has found a school superintendent guilty of lesser charges after he carried a pistol into a middle school.
The Jackson Sun reported Hardin County Director of Schools John Thomas was convicted Tuesday on a misdemeanor count of carrying a weapon in a school without intent to use it. Thomas will pay a $50 fine and have up to six months of probation.
The defense argument had focused on intent and attorney Curtis Hopper placed local prosecutor Hansel McCadams and Hardin County Sheriff Sammy Davidson on the witness stand because both declined to press criminal charges against Thomas.
Special prosecutor Mike Bottoms argued the law in question does not speak to intent.
In his closing argument, he asked jurors, "Are we going to treat everyone, including John Thomas, equally under this law? I ask you to do that."
Thomas' attorney said that if the jury had convicted his client of the felony count he was indicted on, he would have been in violation of his employment contract.
"With this charge, there is no interference with his duties or contract," Hopper said. "So, we're pleased with the verdict, the jury and their work."
School Board Chairman David Long said after the verdict came back that it was not an issue with the board.
County resident Jerry Fowler, who took the case to the grand jury after the local prosecutor declined to, said he was disappointed in the outcome, but satisfied that the issue came to public attention.
(Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)