*THIS INCIDENT HAS BEEN REFERRED TO OSBI & UNDER INVESTIGATION*
CLEET #: 0022498
License Type: Fulltime Peace Officer
License Status: Active
License Effective Date: 08/18/2017
License Expiry Date: N/A
On or about November 9, 2022, an Ardmore Defense Attorney, Jason D. May, disclosed to the public that he had received information that a recording device/camera was installed in the light fixture within the Attorney/Client conference room in the Carter County Jail. The attorney discovered the information to be true upon personally investigating the allegation received from an unnamed Sheriff Office employee and then inspecting the room and discovering the device.
Statement by Carter County Sheriff Chris Bryant to news media outlet: "I was unaware that it was there. The former sheriff in 2002 had authorized a recording device to be placed in the light fixture for a limited purpose that led to the arrest of an attorney, Twana Cherese Smith, for smuggling contraband into the room," Bryant said.
What Bryant left out of that public statement, is that the former Sheriff he was speaking of, Harvey Burkhalter, is Bryant's ex-father-in-law, who is now deceased.
"I have no reason to believe that the camera had been used subsequent to that investigation 20 years ago," Bryant said. "Once I was made aware of it, I checked into it and got it removed, then got with the district attorney and we turned it over to OSBI." The District Attorney he is referring to is Craig Ladd.
The statements made by Sheriff Bryant to media on 11/09/22 are contradicted by news articles published back in March of 2002 that state: "at one point, authorities watched [Smith] buy hacksaw blades at the local Walmart and smuggle them into the jail, after a failed attempt to smuggle hacksaw blades in the spines of bibles". This shows that the investigation took place outside of the jail, and NOT inside of the attorney/client conference room as indicated by Sheriff Bryant in his public statement. The article further states that the blades were LATER FOUND in Bagwell's cell. This indicates that the contraband was not discovered, or intercepted, inside or near the attorney/client conference room.
New articles and online case record for CF-2002-00121 indicate NO WARRANT was requested or issued authorizing the installation/use of a camera in the private room utilized strictly for conducting conversations held to the strict privacy of attorney-client privilege.
Also, Smith was reportedly arrested near the town of Waurika, OK - Not inside, or near the Carter County Jail, as would be expected if she was intercepted attempting to pass contraband in the attorney/client conference room.
The 2002 article then goes on to explain that a hidden recording device was utilized in the investigation, however, in a very different manner. The article states: "Rick Gambill contacted authorities and was equipped with a hidden recorder to assist in Smith's capture."