EXCLUSIVE: Deposition footage of former sheriff Bobby Medford released
BUNCOMBE COUNTY, N.C. -- "These people know what happened, and you're taking up time, okay," said an impatient former Buncombe County Sheriff Bobby Lee Medford.
It's an exclusive look at Buncombe County's former top law enforcer's reaction to the botched investigation surrounding Walter Bowman's 16-year-old murder case. The county paid out millions to five men who were wrongly convicted.
Former Sheriff Bobby Lee Medford, in jail, under oath, talked about getting false statements from suspects. It's a part of his deposition in the civil case against Buncombe County.
Throughout the deposition, Medford appears unapologetic as he reacted to questioning about the Bowman case and other controversial parts of his administration.
"Now, let me tell you something about that, hoss, now me and you are not getting along too good," said Medford as he's questioned by attorneys.
Medford appeared angered when questioned if the former sheriff had been gambling when he should have been on duty, working.
"Did you go to Cherokee?" questioned one of the attorneys. "I did, spent my own money," answered Medford.
The former sheriff also appeared and sounded agitated when asked about still getting a check from taxpayers.
"Don't go there, please don't go there. We know what you're going to say, and don't go there. Now you're beginning to piss me off," Medford said.
"Even though you were convicted of violating the trust of the people of Buncombe County, you're sitting here at a federal prison getting $3,500 a month?" questioned the attorney. "You got it, you got it, that's right," Medford replied.
Former Buncombe County Sheriff Medford is noticeably older and wearing a different government-issued uniform these days, a jumpsuit. He's serving a 15-year sentence for conspiracy, obstruction of justice and money laundering tied to an illegal gambling ring.
In the hours-long 2014 deposition, he shows little remorse for his department's actions in the 2000 Walter Bowman murder case. It's a case that's cost Buncombe County taxpayers $5.4 million.
"I know what happened. You know what happened. These people know what happened, and you're taking up time, OK?" Medford said as the questioning stretched on. "That's about all you're doing, taking up time."
The former sheriff is straightforward when questioned about coercing suspects into confessions.
"If this guy, he didn't do it and he said 'If you're going to plea, we're going to give you two years, but if you don't plea, we're going to give you 20 years,' hell, they're going to jump at the two years, and not going to take a chance on a jury trial," Medford explained.
"People can be under a lot of pressure to avoid a long sentence or even a death penalty?" questioned the attorney. "Sure," Medford said.
"And plead to something you didn't do, just to avoid that possibility," asked the attorney. Medford's reply, "It's been done a lot of times."
It wasn't just the Bowman case. Two men were accused in the death of 18-year-old Mary Judd in 2000, and spent time in jail before they were cleared. Medford alone interviewed the witness that falsely pointed the finger at the men.
"So you went in and talked to her yourself?" questioned the attorney. "Yes," said Medford. "And why did you go in to talk to her by yourself?" asked the attorney.
"They asked me to, one of them did, asked me to go in and talk to her," explained Medford. "What was the reason?" the attorney asked Medford. "Just to go in and tell her that she's in violation of the law if she didn't tell the truth about it. That's what I done," Medford said.
The attorney questioned, "So, you went in to threaten her?" "If you want to call it that," was Medford's response.
Medford told attorneys it was often his attitude with people that caused them to confess, as they asked him about why he would talk with suspects alone.
"What's your secret?" questioned the attorney. "I'm just a nice guy," Medford said in a quick response. "Just a nice guy?" the attorney questions again. "Yeah," Medford said.
"You're just nice to these people and they just tell you?" the attorney asked again. Medford just mumbles, "Mmm hmm, mmm hmm, even the ones I didn't like."
Medford remains in the Butner low-security federal prison.
He's served more than nine years of the 15-year federal sentence for extortion and corruption unrelated to the Bowman case. The charges relate to his conduct as Sheriff from 1994 through 2006.
News 13 has reached out to Medford for his reaction to the verdict but never received a response from the former sheriff.