As the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation completes its probe into a domestic incident that sparked allegations of an inappropriate relationship between Chattanooga Mayor Andy Berke and one of his senior advisers, Robert "Bobby" Stone's court case will be on hold.
Attorneys Tuesday asked Hamilton County Judge Lila Statom to postpone Stone's case during his first appearance on a charge of simple assault. Stone and his wife, Lacie Stone, one of Berke's top advisers, stood feet away from each other while Statom ordered "no contact" between them. Statom agreed to set the case over to Aug. 9.
The domestic incident happened May 21 around 11:30 p.m. when Stone told police she and her husband got into an argument about her phone. Bobby Stone told investigators his wife was having an affair, and when he caught her texting the other man outside on their porch he confronted her and tried to grab her phone. They then fought over the phone. Then he dragged her by the belt to the door of their home in North Chattanooga before telling her to leave, according to a Chattanooga Police Department incident report.
When Bobby Stone was told he was going to have to go to the police station for a taped interview, the police incident report states, he told police the man his wife was having an affair with was the mayor. Berke later said in a statement that Bobby Stone was lying.
During the disagreement, Lacie Stone said, her phone was crushed. While trying to keep the phone, she hit her husband in the head with it several times, records show. Then she got into a car, but as she left her husband hurled a rock into the back windshield, shattering it, reports show.
Lacie Stone then called Chattanooga Police Department Chief Fred Fletcher, who confirmed last week that she followed his suggestion and went to his house.
But what Lacie Stone later told the arresting officer was different from what she told Fletcher earlier in the night, according to an incident report obtained by the Times Free Press.
While Fletcher told police Lacie Stone had told him her husband had "choked" her and tried to kill her, she told the arresting officer that her husband didn't assault her and that the light scratches on her arms and neck might have been from the couple's four dogs, the incident report states.
When the arresting officer asked Lacie Stone about the inconsistencies in her statements to him and Fletcher, she said she had "reacted emotionally to the situation and may have said some things she did not mean," the report stated.
"Mrs. Stone stated she was worried about her reputation and her career and did not want to pursue charges," the report stated.
After the media reported inconsistencies in Lacie Stone's statements, her attorney released a statement defending her.
"Lacie was injured in the attack and those injuries have been properly documented. To suggest she was the perpetrator in this instance is ridiculous," John Cavett, Lacie Stone's attorney, said in a released statement.
Bobby Stone was charged with simple assault and posted a $3,000 bond the same day he was arrested, according to Hamilton County Jail records.
Still, the incident prompted District Attorney General Neal Pinkston to request a TBI investigation.
Pinkston's office said Tuesday it cannot comment on a pending case. Bobby Stone's attorney, Lee Davis, also declined comment but has previously cautioned that Berke's and Fletcher's comments threaten his client's chance to have fair proceedings in court. After the brief appearance, Davis walked his client down the courthouse hallway as throngs of media flanked them.
A TBI spokeswoman said Monday its investigation, which launched last week, is active and ongoing.
"As with any investigation, we follow the facts and the evidence of a case," wrote spokeswoman Susan Niland. "And since each case is fact-specific, we can't predict how long an investigation may take to complete. We may have a better idea as the investigation progresses, but at this stage, it's too early to know."