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February 19, 2014

Smeltz: "Ridiculous" to think he threatened police officer on Facebook

Both sides rest Wednesday in trial of ex-Ada firefighter; jury to deliberate

Ada — Both sides rested their cases in the trial of former Ada firefighter Jason Smeltz this morning, and Pontotoc County Judge Tom Landrith broke for what he called an early "brunch" for the jurors.

 The trial was to resume at 11:45 a.m. with closing arguments and the judge then giving his instructions to the jury before they retire to deliberate.

 Wednesday morning was a continuation of Monday's arguments over how words taken from Facebook posts should be interpreted.

Smeltz is charged with putting another person in fear of physical harm or death. A guilty verdict can bring a sentence of not more than 10 years in prison and a fine of not less than $5,000 nor more than $100,000, according to the District Attorney’s Office. Smeltz has pleaded not guilty. He has also filed to run for the Ada City Council.

Assistant District Attorney Jim Tillson called Ada police detective Shane Jones to the stand to start off the morning. Jones turned out to be Tillson's final witness.

 Jones described how Rhoads had asked him to launch an investigation after the incident; how he had collected the Facebook data and saved it to a police department  iPad.

  Jones also described how Rhoads was visibly upset for several days after that. Jones sparred verbally with Smeltz's defense attorney Warren Gotcher.

  After Tillson rested his case, Gotcher called Mr. and Mrs. Smeltz to the stand with Jason Smeltz going first.

  Gotcher took him through some of the controversial Facebook posts and also had him explain what got him so upset the night of April 24, 2013, and in the days that followed.

 Gotcher then had Laura Elizabeth Smeltz describe her experience that night, including the traffic stop, her experience in the Pontotoc County holding cell and being strip-searched after police determined she was not legally drunk.

 Tillson then waded into the quotes with which he argued Smeltz threatened Rhoads.

 Smeltz admitted he was embarrassed by his language in those postings but insisted he never threatened Rhoads. "I think it's ridiculous for anyone to take those posts as me threatening him," he said.

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