Bonifay City Council voted 3-1 to remove Councilman Robert Dewey Urquhart fro office in a special meeting held Monday, May 2.
Vice Mayor Roger Brooks was the sole no vote.
The action comes after a jury found Urquhart guilty of misdemeanor battery following a short trial hed April 27 at the Holmes County Courthouse.
Fourteenth Judicial Circuit Judge Russell Roberts presided over the proceedings with Assistant State Attorney Ben Keown prosecuting and Defense Attorney Zach White acting as counsel for Urquhart.
The jury took less than 15 minutes to come back with the guilty verdict; after which Roberts immediately handed down sentencing.
Urquhart received six months of probation and was ordered to pay $730 in court costs and fines, write a letter of apology to the victim and have no contact with the victim.
The case stems from an incident that occurred last September in the Bonifay City Council Chambers after a heated phone call between Urquhart and the victim, James Earl Sellers, had taken place a few hours before the council meeting.
Sellers testified he had called Urquhart in reference to a city issue earlier in the day. When Urquhart arrived at the meeting Sellers stated Urquhart approached him, touched him on his chest and said,” Don’t you ever call my house like that again.”
While Urquhart admitted on the stand that he touched Sellers, he stated it was to get his attention because he wanted him to look him in the eye and hear what he had to say. “I wanted his full attention when I told him not to ever call my house like that again.” Urquhart went on to say he thought he and Sellers were close enough friends that he could touch him and it not be considered malicious.
The jury disagreed and found Urquhart guilty of battery.
Urquhart says he is not satisfied with the verdict. “A miscarriage of justice,” said Urquhart. “That is what this was.”
Sellers, however, feels differently. “I think the ruling was fair,” said Sellers. “I don’t hate him. I think there is a good man inside of him if weren’t so volatile. I am satisfied with the outcome of the case.”
Attorney Jeremy Mutz of the firm Blankenship Jordan, which represents the city, recommended Urquhart’s removal on Monday. Mutz cited appropriate legal proceedings and stated if the council did not take the action, the Governor would step in to start the removal process.
After voting to remove Urquhart, the council appointed First United Methodist Bonifay pastor Ryan Martin to fill the vacant seat. Martin was sworn in during that same meeting.
Urquhart left the meeting without incident.