Franklin County jury acquits Phillips man of charges

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FARMINGTON — A Franklin County jury Wednesday acquitted a Phillips man of slamming a woman’s head against the ground and rear-ending a truck she was riding in in September 2013.

It took the jury less than an hour to find John Pillsbury, 50, not guilty of felony domestic violence reckless conduct with a dangerous weapon, felony reckless conduct with a dangerous weapon and misdemeanor domestic violence assault.

Assistant District Attorney James Andrews told the jury during closing statements that Pillsbury was in a jealous rage because he didn’t get Felicia Bell’s full attention when he slammed her head on the ground while trying to take her phone. He was also in a rage when he struck the back of a truck driven by Bell’s boyfriend, Dennis Hanson, both of Phillips.

Pillsbury’s attorney, Kevin Joyce, said there were inconsistencies in Bell’s statements and that no accident reconstruction was done or tests to indicate that Pillsbury was intoxicated and had been driving.

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He also said a friend to Pillsbury and Bell testified that he did not see or hear Pillsbury’s vehicle leave his house after everyone else left in the early morning hours of Sept. 23, 2013.

Testimony indicated that four friends, not Hanson, had been drinking at Pillsbury’s house on Wheeler Hill Road in Phillips and went to Brian Donovan’s house on the dead-end road. They were trying to console Donovan, whose father had died and was buried the day before, Bell testified.

Bell said she had been with Hanson and she received a call from Pillsbury to come to his house where she rented a room. She had had a disagreement with Hanson, she said under cross-examination by Joyce.

After they left Pillsbury’s house and went to Donovan’s house, Bell said, Pillsbury told her to call her boyfriend and have him come pick her up. She said she went outside and made a second call to Hanson to come get her, Pillsbury came out and tried to take the phone from her. She said he grabbed the side of her head and smashed it on the ground. She also said Pillsbury damaged her phone.

Hanson testified that while on the phone with Bell, he heard a scream and some yelling and recognized Pillsbury’s voice before the phone went dead.

He picked Bell up and when they were driving toward the main road, he said, he saw a pickup truck coming up behind him at a high rate of speed. He recognized it as Pillsbury’s because it had a headlight out and had a plow frame on it. He said his pickup truck was rear-ended by Pillsbury’s truck.

Hanson said he drove to the end of the road and called police.

Franklin County Deputy Kevin Hartley said he responded to a report of a hit-and-run in the early morning hours of Sept. 23. Deputy Colt Sleaster and Trooper Reid Bond also responded.

Bell complained of pain to her head and was taken by ambulance to a hospital.

Hartley said he and Sleaster went to Pillsbury’s and knocked on the door. No one answered but they continued to knock, he said. Bond arrived later.

Hartley said he went around back of the house and saw Pillsbury through the window crouched in a corner. He went back to the front and they knocked again and ordered him to come out. When he didn’t, he went back around the house with a flashlight in one hand and his handgun in the other. When he knocked on the window with his flashlight, the window broke, he said.

Pillsbury eventually came out of the house. He was intoxicated, Hartley said. He gave three different stories, including that Bell was driving and Hanson stopped short and Pillsbury drove into the back of him. He blamed it all on Bell, Hartley said.

Joyce asked him why he didn’t have an accident reconstructionist come in and reconstruct the accident.

Hartley said it wouldn’t have worked because Pillsbury’s truck was not at the scene and that method is used normally when there is a fatal accident or serious injury. He also said too much time had lapsed between the accident and arresting Pillsbury to determine if he had been driving under the influence.

Andrews had showed the court photos of Pillsbury’s truck, which had heavy damage to the front. He also said Pillsbury’s truck was parked behind his house, in the driveway as usual. He also showed photos of Hanson’s truck, which had its back bumper bent down, and according to Hanson, the frame was bent in the accident.

Hartley testified that he didn’t see any damage to Bell’s phone and did not see any injuries on her face that he noticed. He said she was near hysterical when he was talking to her.

dperry@sunjournal.com

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