Officer: Tindell admitted giving pills
Published 7:05 am Wednesday, March 4, 2009
By By Kerry Whipple Bean
A bond reduction hearing Monday afternoon gave prosecutors a chance to lay out some of their evidence in a drug case involving a local teacher, while friends and family explained why they believe Larry Tindell deserves a chance to be released on bond.
Tindell was arrested Feb. 10 on an indictment charging him with illegal possession and distribution of a controlled substance. Following his arrest, a search of his home led to charges on three counts of possession of child pornography. He was arraigned last week on the drug charges and pleaded not guilty; he has not been arraigned on the other charges.
Tindell has been held on $425,000 bond since his arrest. After Monday’s hearing, Judge Bradley Byrne said he would issue a decision on reducing bond this week.
The drug distribution charge could carry a sentence of 2 to 20 years in prison, or up to 30 years if special circumstances — such as distributing the drugs near a school — are found. The other charges could carry a sentence of 1 to 10 years in prison.
Prosecutors contend that Tindell gave three pills of the prescription drug Lortab to a 19-year-old man.
Sheriff’s deputies testified Monday that Tindell admitted giving the man drugs. They also said Tindell admitted in a statement to investigators that he paid another young man $20 to watch the man perform a sexual act on himself.
Investigators set up an undercover operation, sending one of the young men to obtain drugs from Tindell while wearing a wire. That evidence — on audio and video — led to the grand jury indictment on drug charges.
One of the young men was a student at W.S. Neal, where Tindell was a special education teacher, while the other was a student in Tindell’s adult education class at Jefferson Davis Community College, McGraw testified. There was no testimony about where the interaction between the men allegedly took place.
After Tindell was arrested on the drug charges, deputies obtained a search warrant for his home to look for drugs. They found the pornographic photos during that search and immediately sought a second search warrant for that material, McGraw said.
McGraw participated in the search of Tindell’s home, where McGraw testified that a large Rubbermaid container of pornographic material, including photos, DVDs and VHS tapes were found. A manilla envelope with Tindell’s name on the front was found in that container, and McGraw said investigators — including an FBI agent — determined that three of the photos were of underage teenage boys. The photos appeared to be Polaroids, and they appeared to be “fairly new,” he said.
The other photos, DVDs and VHS tapes have been sent for further investigation, along with computers taken from the Tindell home and Tindell’s classroom, McGraw said.
Investigator Adam Johnson testified that he believes Tindell is a danger to the community and should not be released on bond.
Before the prosecution witnesses testified, family members and friends of Tindell said they believed he would not be a flight risk if released on bond.
Tindell’s wife, Lisa, and brother, Dennis, said they were shocked by the charges but do not believe Tindell would try to flee to avoid prosecution.
Patty White, the teacher’s aide in Tindell’s special education classroom, said she was “very surprised” by the charges Tindell is facing.
She also said Tindell was not “computer literate” — to the point that she had to send e-mails for him.
A former student in Tindell’s adult education class at JDCC and a former pastor also testified on Tindell’s behalf Monday, saying they believe he is a trustworthy person who would not be a flight risk.
Tindell’s attorney, Danny White, said Tindell has no prior criminal record. White said he believes bond should be set at a maximum of $60,000.