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Etowah County sheriff candidate has questionable past

Susan Britt

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Rainbow City Police Chief Jonathon Horton is running for Etowah County Sheriff even though his criminal past would generally disqualify him from being a police officer in Rainbow City, much less County Sheriff. Horton has a history of domestic violence against his former wife and a conviction of 3rd-degree assault involving an accident in which he was driving a county vehicle while under the influence of alcohol.

Rainbow City Alabama Police Officer Salary And Job Requirements

It is doubtful that Horton could even be hired as an Etowah County sheriff’s deputy given his background.

Qualifications for an Etowah County sheriff’s deputy read in part, “Good character and reputation, no felony conviction, no conviction of a misdemeanor involving domestic violence, moral turpitude, perjury, or false statements.”

The situation is so dire that Etowah County Republican Party Chair State Sen. Phil Williams has called a special executive committee meeting for Thursday night to, “discuss recent developments in the campaign for Etowah County Sheriff.”

According to an email obtained by the Alabama Political Reporter, Williams writes, “Candidate for Sheriff Chief Jonathan Horton has been asked to address the Executive Committee related to documents indicating domestic violence.” Williams closes saying, “It is absolutely imperative that we have members of the Executive Committee present for this discussion.”

BACKGROUND—ACCIDENT

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A Gadsden Times story from July 3, 2006, states that Horton, who was working on a district attorney’s office task force, was in his county-issued Chevy Tahoe when he collided with the late-model Ford Mustang of Scarlett Bellamy while he was under the influence of alcohol. Bellamy’s car flipped and landed in a field, where she had to be cut free by firemen. She would require several surgeries on her legs over the next few years.

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Court records found on Alacourt and newspaper stories from that time show that Horton entered a plea deal and agreed to plead guilty to a lesser charge of 3rd-degree assault instead of DUI. On Dec. 20, 2006, a Grand Jury returned an indictment against Horton. After his trial, he was sentenced to 12 months in prison but was given two years unsupervised probation and ordered to pay court costs.

A wild sheriff’s race in Etowah County

But that’s just one of many instances where Horton ran afoul of the law.

BACKGROUND—DOMESTIC VIOLENCE

In their first divorce in 1991, Horton’s wife, Angie Leigh Horton, in an affidavit, which is part of the official court record, said her husband is, “a violent and vicious man.”

She further attested, “Throughout the marriage the defendant has physically assaulted the plaintiff with such attacks being attended to danger to life or death. On August 18, 1991 the defendant attempted to strike the plaintiff, and, in his attempt to do so, he struck the plaintiff on the cheek and struck the parties’ minor child over the right eye brow. Because if the defendant’s violent nature and aggressive conduct exhibited throughout marriage, the plaintiff fears for her health and safety and requests an order restraining the defendant from coming around, harassing, phoning, or contacting the plaintiff. The plaintiff has moved from the parties’ residence.”

Not only did his wife state that Horton hit her, his errant blow injured his child in the attack.

Horton was arrested by the Gadsden Police Department two days later on two counts assault on outstanding warrants. He was booked into the Gadsden City Jail with a $2,000 bond. Following a temporary restraining order for Horton to stay away from Angie Horton, Etowah County Circuit Court Judge Donald Stewart issued an official restraining order on Sept. 27, 1992.

A police report from that same year stated that Horton had burglarized his mother-in-law’s home.

The next year, Horton was arrested again. This time for harassment.

The couple remarried but divorced again in 1997.

On July 6, 1997, Angie Horton filed a police report with the Gadsden Police Department for harassment against her by her husband at her home.

On July 9, 1997, Angie Horton signed another affidavit, stating that the defendant has been mentally and physically abusive toward the plaintiff and has threatened her life and has threatened to take her children from her.

Later in the second divorce, it states, “that the most recent incident of physical abuse was Sunday night, July 6, 1997, when the defendent struck the plaintiff and pulled her hair and physically assaulted her, and it was then that the plaintiff left the marital home with the minor children of the parties and went to her mother’s, and between the two marriages of the parties, there is a history of physical and mental abuse inflicted upon the plaintiff by the defendant and the plaintiff legitimately feared for her health and safety.”

Horton’s past could be considered troublesome by the Etowah County Republican Executive Committee, as well as by voters, in the June 5 primary.

 

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