Man received suspended sentence in case of torturing wife

Wednesday, August 25th 1999, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

WOODWARD, Okla. (AP) -- A Mississippi man who pleaded guilty to
kidnapping and assaulting his common-law wife with an electric
cattle prod has been given a 10-year suspended sentence.

A maiming charge against James Harold Smith, 40, of Houston,
Miss., was dropped Tuesday after Gayle Pollison, 32, of Ecru,
Miss., refused to testify against Smith.

Smith pleaded guilty in Woodward County District Court to the
charges stemming from the repeated beating and torturing of Ms.
Pollison after their tractor-trailer rig broke down in Woodward.

In addition to the suspended sentence, Smith was ordered to
receive mental health treatment within the next 30 days, pay a $250
fine for each count and a $500 reimbursement to the Woodward County
Drug Task Force.

Ms. Pollison has since fled back to Mississippi and is in
hiding, refusing to testify against Smith. Prosecutors said that
without her testimony, the case against Smith was questionable.

"Ms. Pollison's refusal to testify rendered most of the state's
evidence as inadmissible hearsay," said First Assistant District
Attorney Don Brown. "Under those circumstances we felt that
obtaining the two major felony convictions with the treatment
provisions was as good as could reasonably be expected."

"While we are disappointed and disgusted with many aspects of
this case, all involved with its prosecution feel we did the best
we could," Brown said.

Brown said Ms. Pollison had called authorities asking them to
drop the charges.

The suspended sentence means Smith will serve no jail time
besides the 60 days he has been held in Woodward County Jail.

Smith was arrested June 27 after police found Ms. Pollison,
badly burned and beaten, hiding in a ditch just north of the
Woodward County Sale Barn. On that day, the couple had delivered a
load of cattle to the sale barn, but Smith's truck broke down and
had been at the barn most of the day.

During that time, Smith apparently kept Ms. Pollison locked in
the sleeper cab of the truck without food, water or air
conditioning as temperatures climbed into the 90s. He would
periodically enter the cab to beat Ms. Pollison and torture her
with a modified electric cattle prod.

A doctor found she had a broken nose, broken ribs, deep bruises
on her arms and legs and numerous electric burns.

Brown said his office was disappointed that it could not get Ms.
Pollison back to the state to testify.

"We are profoundly disappointed in her attitude, but most of us
in this business have learned that we cannot right all wrongs and
generally cannot adequately help those who refuse to help
themselves," Brown said.