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Not guilty plea entered for Sutton

DEMOPOLIS – Linden newspaper Publisher Goodloe Sutton was suppose to appear before Municipal Judge Woody Dinning Jr. on Monday, but hours before his appearance attorney William Coplin entered a plea of not guilty on behalf of Sutton. Sutton’s trail date was set for Oct. 22, 2004.

“This is the process we must go through pleading not guilty,” Coplin said, “We’ll see what kind of evidence they have to charge him with.”

According to Jeff Manuel, public safety director and acting police chief in Demopolis, someone called 911 on Sept. 4 when Sutton’s truck was seen weaving in and out of traffic on U.S. 80 West. Police responded to the call and stopped Sutton in the old Wal-Mart parking lot on U.S. 80 East.

Police reports indicate Sutton refused to take a breath test and that he failed a field sobriety test.

Sutton, however, has publicly disputed police reports and has claimed police were “laying in ready to exact revenge for stories which cast them in a public light, which was distasteful to them.”

In a story published in his newspaper, The Democrat-Reporter, Sutton said he wanted to report on life in prison. Though he did not indicate that he purposefully set up an arrest, Sutton said police charged him with DUI for no reason.

Before driving into Demopolis, Sutton said he and a passenger had visited Belmont around 4 p.m. that day and both were served “coke and sprite sodas…”

After a caller notified 911 that Sutton’s truck had veered between traffic lanes, Sutton said three or four police cars “converged” on his truck. After police said Sutton failed a field-sobriety test, Sutton was taken to police headquarters where he said he was questioned again.

“The little machine on the highway scene didn’t register coke breath so maybe we could get some other kind other kind of breath in the police station,” Sutton wrote. “Not explaining we’d had coke was not wise on our part.”

Manuel said he stands by his officers and their report on Sutton’s arrest.