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Defendant Tim Boyd, Hamilton County District 8 commissioner, looks on before his trial gets back from recess before Judge Andrew Freiberg during his extortion trial in Judge Don Poole's courtroom in the Hamilton County-Chattanooga Courts Building on Wednesday, Oct. 31, 2018 in Chattanooga, Tenn.

UPDATE: A judge has tossed out Tim Boyd's extortion charge and said jurors can consider a lesser-included charge.

After contemplating a motion of acquittal from the defense, Judge Andrew Freiberg said the evidence didn't show Boyd communicated a threat to then-campaign opponent Brent Lambert.

Freiberg, however, said there's a mountain of evidence that could show Boyd made certain phone calls in the hopes of gaining an advantage, namely a political race where his opponent dropped out.

He is allowing the case go to forward as attempted extortion, which is a Class E felony. Boyd's attorney is putting on proof now through witness Ken Meyer, a longtime political operative who served as an advisor for Boyd's District 8 commission race.

Prosecutors finished presenting their proof against Boyd earlier this afternoon.

This is a developing story. Please check back later.

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EARLIER REPORTING:

A Hamilton County Commissioner's extortion trial continues today in Criminal Court.

Tim Boyd pleaded not guilty Wednesday to threatening Brent Lambert, the outgoing Mayor of East Ridge, to drop out of their race earlier this year for the Hamilton County Commission District 8 seat.

His lawyer, Lee Davis, said yesterday that Lambert adopted a political strategy with lawyers and other officials to secretly record conversations with Boyd, turn them over to authorities and then seek a criminal indictment a day before early voting in their May 1 primary.

District Attorney General Neal Pinkston said Boyd went beyond the protections of free speech and political speech because he threatened to release damaging information about Lambert unless Lambert dropped out of the race.

That information, Boyd and Davis have argued, is contained in public campaign finance reports and reported on in local media.

Lambert is testifying now as part of Pinkston's case against Boyd. The commissioner, who is out on bond, faces two to four years if convicted of the Class D felony.

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