By Randy Mitchell
ADA — District Judge Steven Kessinger denied bail Tuesday for two men accused of kidnapping and beating one man and kidnapping and threatening another.
Rodney Couch, 51, and his son, 28-year-old Clinton Couch, both of Wardville, were denied bail because Kessinger said the defense failed to prove they would not be a danger to society.
They are accused of kidnapping and beating Jason James, 32, Ada, and kidnapping and threatening Steve Busby, 56, Allen, in November. Assistant District Attorney Jim Tillison argued the Caitlin Wooten Act should be exercised in the case.
The act strengthens bail laws by requiring persons charged with kidnapping to prove they are not a public danger before they may post bail.
Attorney for the defense, Warren Gotcher of McAlester, felt his clients were being treated as if they were guilty until proven innocent instead of the other way around.
Gotcher said he called several people — including a former Atoka County sheriff — who know Rodney and Clinton Couch and vouched for them as being upstanding citizens that could be trusted if released on bail. One character witness said he would be willing to put up his ranch as collateral to get the Couches released on bail.
Tillison argued because of the violent nature of the alleged crime and alleged life-threatening statements made by the defendants, they should remain in the Pontotoc County Justice Center.
The defense argued Rodney Couch has serious health issues and should be released to tend to them. Rodney and Clinton Couch are charged with two counts each of kidnapping, one count each of conspiracy and one count each of assault and battery with a dangerous weapon.
Authorities said the Couches were in a horse partnership with James and Busby. James reportedly brokered a deal between Rodney Couch and Busby to house several dozen horses on Busby’s land in exchange for James performing 300 hours of free work and Busby being paid $6,000.
Busby reportedly told authorities he never received a payment and sent a civil document to Rodney Couch stating he had seven days to pick up the horses and pay him for missed payments or he would sell the horses, keep the amount of the missed payments and give the rest of the money to Rodney Couch.
Busby told sheriff’s deputies Clinton Couch kidnapped him and drove him to a location where Rodney Couch and several other men were waiting. He said several threats were made on his life before he was driven back home.
“Steve advised that Rodney drove him back to his residence and while on the way, Rodney stated that Jason stole 15 horses and is going to get beat within an inch of his life and forced to pay back the money Jason owed,” Sheriff’s Deputy Will Hayden said in a report.
Authorities allege after the incident with Busby, the Couches kidnapped James and drove him to a location three miles south of Allen and beat him with wire and landscaping timbers.