Stahl pleads guilty, but civil suit is ahead

Left to right: Attorney Michael Crosby, John Mark Stahl.
Left to right: Attorney Michael Crosby, John Mark Stahl.

JACKSON COUNTY, MS (WLOX) - The man former Jackson County sheriff Mike Byrd admitted to kicking in the groin the night of his arrest will be heading to prison. John Mark Stahl, 51, agreed Wednesday to a plea deal with the state. He was sentenced to three years in prison for motor vehicle theft and eluding law enforcement in 2012. Now, Stahl's attorney could be pursuing a civil suit against the county.

John Mark Stahl stood before the judge and confessed that back in June 2012 he drank a fifth of whiskey before getting on the road and wrecking his car in Jackson County. Stahl said when a deputy arrived on scene, he stole his patrol car and took off until finally surrendering in Mobile.

Defense attorney Michael Crosby said after Stahl was handcuffed and arrested, a brutal assault happened at the hands of law enforcers, including former sheriff Mike Byrd.

"The sheriff came up behind him and kicked him in the groin area," Crosby said.  He backed up and explained to him that he was going to punish him and make his life miserable and ran and kicked him again, twice causing permanent damage in that area and all areas above."

Last month, Byrd resigned. Before that, he pleaded guilty in federal court to one count of witness tampering to cover up this assault. Stahl faced a three count indictment for the patrol car theft and a pending drug case.

Wednesday, he agreed to a three year prison plea deal.

"We felt that was fair under the circumstances. Plus, the judge is allowing him to get treatment for any kind of substance or addiction problems he has," Crosby said.

Now that the criminal side is over, Crosby wants to focus on the civil side of this case. He said it's important his client receive the monetary compensation he deserves from the county for several injuries the night of his arrest.

"His quality life was taken from him and the only thing that can substitute with that to him is money. We have to put the county on official notice about the damages. If necessary, we will file the suit and pursue that in court," Crosby said.

Crosby has not said how much Stahl will be seeking in that lawsuit.

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