Having succeeded Tuesday (Aug. 1) in getting a felony charge dropped against Tim McGraw, attorney Thomas J. Eoannou told country.com he will now seek to have all the remaining charges dismissed. A ruling on his motion, which he expects to file soon, will probably come in September, he says. As it now stands, McGraw, Kenny Chesney and Mark Russo, a member of McGraw’s management team, will go on trial Dec. 5-7, in the town court of Orchard Park, a suburb of Buffalo, N.Y.
All the charges against the three men stem from an incident at the June 3 George Strait concert in Buffalo. McGraw and Chesney were among Strait’s opening acts. Chesney mounted a horse assigned to the Erie County sheriff’s office (which was helping with concert security) and began riding it in the backstage area. When deputies tried to take him off the horse, McGraw and Russo struggled with the officers and were arrested, as was Chesney.
The reduced charges against McGraw are third-degree assault, obstructing governmental administration, menacing and resisting arrest. Chesney faces charges of disorderly conduct and Russo of resisting arrest and obstructing governmental administration. If convicted of third-degree assault, McGraw could face as much as a year in jail.
Eoannou, who also represents Chesney and Russo, would not specify the evidence he introduced to persuade the district attorney’s office to reduce the severity of the charges against McGraw. “The district attorney’s office, in my opinion, agreed that Tim McGraw didn’t intend to hurt anybody,” Eoannou says. “I think that’s the most important thing. And, secondly, that he didn’t injure anybody . . . Clearly there was evidence produced that persuaded the district attorney that this was not some intentional act by Tim McGraw to injure a police officer. In fact, if the 35-year-old woman had not given Chesney the horse, none of this would have happened.”
The woman Eoannou refers to is the daughter of the officer in charge of the sheriff department’s mounted division. “The sheriff’s department,” Eoannou continues, “is maintaining the position that she let [Chesney] sit on it but not ride on it. I think that’s an untenable position, and I believe the proof will show that she gave him the horse.”
The next step, Eoannou says, is to confer with McGraw and advise him of his legal options. “I think Tim would like his side of the story told, and I anticipate he’d want to do it in front of a jury.”
Although Scott Siman, McGraw’s manager, earlier ruled out the possibility that the singer would plead to a lesser charge, Eoannou says he might. “He would not plead to a lesser criminal charge,” the lawyer explains. “If there is a non-criminal way to dispose of this case, Tim and I will look at it.”
Reports from the Associated Press and the Buffalo News said that the sheriff’s department opposed the reduction of the felony charge against McGraw and that Sheriff Patrick M. Gallivan was particularly incensed that the incident had been reduced to a running joke by people in McGraw’s and Chesney’s camps.