State presents case against “citizen journalist”

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Nydia Tisdale (left) confers with her defense team during Tuesday’s trial in Dawson County Superior Court.

DAWSONVILLE, Ga. – Prosecutors presented a string of witnesses who testified Tuesday that self-proclaimed citizen journalist Nydia Tisdale refused repeated requests by Burt’s Pumpkin Farm owners to stop filming a political rally on their property in August 2014.

Event coordinator Clint Bearden testified that Tisdale ignored at least five requests to stop filming before she was physically removed by Dawson County Sheriff’s Captain Tony Wooten. Tisdale has been charged with one felony and one misdemeanor count of obstruction of an officer and criminal trespassing after the officer said she elbowed him in the face and kicked him in the shin.

Clint Bearden, an attorney and magistrate judge who is on a short list to become a state superior court judge, testified that he organized the event that included some of Georgia’s top politicians, including Gov. Nathan Deal and then U.S. Senate candidate David Perdue.

Bearden said he and Wooten talked to property owner Johnny Burt who wanted Tisdale to stop filming or leave. He said he asked her 3-4 times to stop and she ignored him. “I thought she was a little rude,” he said. “She said she had permission from the owners, but I told her I had just talked to Johnny Burt and she did not have permission.”

Johnny Burt testified that when Wooten told her to stop filming or leave “she just blurted out ‘No’. So I told him to get her out of here. She was screaming out that my wife told her she could film, and I told her that wasn’t true.”

Kasey Sanders, the Burts’ daughter testified that she was at the entrance when Tisdale arrived and that she never asked for permission. “She just said she was there to film for the governor,” Sanders said.

In an audio recording produced by Brian K. Pritchard of Fetch Your News, Tisdale can be heard screaming for Wooten to identify himself.

Wooten, who was dressed in a black polo shirt with a silver embroidered sheriff’s badge and khakis also had a badge on his belt, his service revolver and a police-issued radio.

Defense attorney Bruce Harvey asked Wooten why he didn’t immediately identify himself. Wooten responded that his first responsibility was the safety of the crowd. “I didn’t know her or what her intentions were,” he said. He said once he got her away from the crowd and she calmed down, he did identify himself.

The trial continues Wednesday in Dawson County Superior Court.

After the jury was dismissed for the day, Judge Martha Christian denied a motion to quash a subpoena for Gov. Nathan Deal who is expected to testify before the end of the week.

The state is expected up wrap up its case Wednesday before the defense begins calling its witnesses.

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