05/27/09 — Former Cherry workers on trial

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Former Cherry workers on trial

By Nick Hiltunen
Published in News on May 27, 2009 1:46 PM

Two men accused of beating a patient while on duty at Cherry Hospital pleaded not guilty Tuesday in Wayne County Superior Court.

A jury was selected and opening arguments were expected to begin today.

William Kenneth Johnson, 52, and Taniko Dominique Upton, 33, each face one count of assault on a handicapped person.

Goldsboro attorneys Will Bland and John Agner are representing the two men, whose cases have been combined for trial.

This is not the first time the two men have faced a judge for the alleged beating of Nelson O'Neill Glover on Aug. 18, 2008.

They were found guilty on misdemeanor charges in Wayne County District Court in November, before Judge David Brantley.

Bland downplayed the importance of that conviction because the case would eventually begin anew in Wayne County Superior Court. The standards for conviction in district court are lower, Bland said.

Judge Arnold Jones, Assistant District Attorney Douglas Thorne, Agner and Bland spent most of Tuesday selecting a jury for the trial.

Potential jurors were asked if they knew anything about the case, or if they had prejudices that could sway their opinion, according to standard trial procedure.

Johnson and Upton are accused of beating Glover, who suffers from bipolar disorder, according to court officials.

As the final jury selections were made, the judge reminded jurors that opening statements were not to be considered evidence.

He also told the jurors their final votes of guilt or innocence would weigh heavily on the lives of the two defendants.

"Justice requires that everyone tried for the same crime be treated in the same way," Jones said. "(Defendants) are not required to prove ... innocence, but are presumed to be innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt."