During his co-defendants’ trial, prosecutors had argued that the $20,000 reward Bad Boyz Bonding Co. owner Harold Head had offered for Benjamin Scott Blevins’ capture motivated the trio to willfully ignore any proof that Ryan Shealy, 31, was not the man they sought.
Prosecutors pointed out that on May 23, 2010, Sullivan County Sheriff’s Office deputies told the men to leave Shealy’s residence because they did not have enough evidence that he was Blevins. Then on May 24, 2010, the men returned and ultimately handcuffed Shealy, put him in the back of a Geo Metro, and drove him to the Hawkins County Sheriff’s Department, even though deputies there had failed to reach a consensus that photos of Shealy and Blevins were of the same man, and one officer had warned Keeling that he could be charged if he had the wrong man.
On Thursday, the judge acknowledged Collins had said in a statement that he was “Sick about going back” to Shealy’s home, but noted that he went anyway. He characterized the group’s treatment of Shealy as having, “Basically tormented this young man, terrorized him, ended up taking him all the way down to Hawkins County.”
Shealy testified the men refused to believe that he was not Blevins even after he showed them identification as proof. Shealy described the trip to the jail as a frightful experience, partly because he had never been arrested before, but also because the men pulled over and shut off the car several times, leaving him sitting in total darkness on some unknown back road with three strangers for several minutes at a time.
According to testimony, when they arrived in Hawkins County, deputies immediately determined Shealy was not Blevins and ordered Keeling to remove the handcuffs. Shealy was then allowed to return home with his father. Shealy previously told the Times-News that Blevins – who was wanted in Hawkins County for identity theft – lived at the residence before he bought it. >>Times News