Linam abuse case nearing close

Published 11:02 am Wednesday, March 17, 2010

By By Kerry Whipple Bean
Nearly a year after Terry Desmond Linam and his wife were charged with child abuse, the case that has already involved several twists and turns is close to an end.
Linam agreed Monday to enter a pretrial diversion program, with the hope that charges against him will eventually be dropped, his attorney Laura Grantham said Monday morning.
"The case has been settled," Grantham said.
Charges against Linam's wife, Tracy, had already been dropped.
Linam was originally charged in April 2009 with three counts of aggravated child abuse and three counts of domestic violence.
A pretrial diversion program will likely entail payment of fees and counseling, and upon successful completion the prosecution will likely file a motion to dismiss the charges.
Grantham said she was not satisfied by the agreement, but thought it was best for Linam.
"We've reached what we feel is a good option for our client," she said. "He never should have been here."
The grand jury indictment in the case alleged several acts of physical abuse against Linam's children.
Linam's wife, Tracy, was initially charged in the case. A former Rachel Patterson Elementary School teacher, she lost her job as a result of the case. Grantham said the Linams hope she will regain her job.
The Linam case involved several twists and turns – including a change of judges and allegations of a connection to a suspected arson case.
Prosecution of the case was turned over to the state attorney general's office because of a conflict of interest in District Attorney Steve Billy's office.
In September 2009, the home of one of the witnesses in the case, Ken Brewton, "was burned down in what amounted to an explosion," court records state. The case was continued as authorities began to look into the cause of the fire.
As of last week, the state fire marshal's office said there had been no resolution in the arson case.
But Grantham said Monday that Brewton was a minor character witness for Linam's ex-wife, Marcie, and was not a chief witness in the case. Moreover, she said, her office did not request the continuance; it was requested by the state attorney general's office, and she did not object.
After the September continuance, Circuit Judge Bert Rice recused himself from the case, granting a prosecution motion that stated Rice's actions in court could give the appearance of partiality. In court papers, prosecutors said Rice stated in court there was "no basis" for the child abuse charges.
Grantham said her office had no problem with Rice – or with his replacement, Judge Byrne.
"We never thought there was a conflict with Judge Rice," Grantham said. "He's been fair all along. We have had two excellent circuit judges."

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