Here’s what we know:
1. On May 10, 2019, following protocol, Lake Norman Regional Medical Center reported to police that a person was at the hospital with a stab wound. Law enforcement responded and documented at about 10:30 p.m. that Robert Terry, 51, had been stabbed. Police characterized the attack as an aggravated assault.
2. Shortly after the attack occurred and was reported to local law enforcement, Commissioner Thurman Houston’s name was provided to police as the assailant. He is named as such in initial police documents.
3. Ten days after the incident, the police report was locked, making it available to only a few, select people. Usually reports from only high-profile or ongoing cases are locked, according to police sources.
4. Twelve days after the incident, the case was referred to the State Bureau of Investigation because of a potential conflict of interest that could interfere with local law enforcement’s investigation of the stabbing.
5. The State Bureau of Investigation did investigate the stabbing.
6. Despite the hospital’s prompt reporting of the crime to local police the night it occurred and the early identification of Houston as a suspect, the victim more recently told state investigators that not only did he not know the identity of his attacker, but that he could give no information whatsoever to investigating agents as to the identity of other possible witnesses.
7. The Iredell County District Attorney’s Office reviewed the SBI investigation and decided not to pursue criminal charges since the victim said “he did not know who assaulted him and could give no leads to the agent as to the identity of possible witnesses,” DA Sarah Kirkman said this week.
8. Despite repeated requests that he address his role in the stabbing, Houston has refused to publicly deny he stabbed Terry. He has not said a word in public about the incident or his role in it.
These are the undisputed facts.
Now it is the duty of town citizens to draw reasonable inferences from them. Self-government demands that of us. And it is no excuse to simply proclaim Houston hasn’t been charged with a crime. Just because a crime wasn’t committed – or, more accurately, cannot be proved – does not mean the behavior of stabbing another human being should be accepted by the community. Surely we should demand more of our elected officials than that they not be criminals.
So, what inferences can we draw? Here goes:
On the night of May 10, Terry and Houston were together, and for reasons unknown, things got heated. One thing led to another, and Houston assaulted Terry. Terry went to the hospital, which promptly contacted law enforcement, who responded and took a report.
In those minutes and hours before anyone could worry about personal or political consequences, Terry didn’t press charges, but Houston was identified as the assailant. Law enforcement recorded it as such.
But then someone got to thinking that for reasons personal or political, maybe it wasn’t a great idea for Terry to identify Houston as his attacker. In the time it took the SBI to get involved because of a potential conflict of interest arising from local law enforcement investigating an elected official, Terry decided to claim ignorance, decline to cooperate and claim he had no idea who attacked him. Maybe others who were present or had knowledge of the events decided to do the same thing. As for Houston himself, knowing he couldn’t truthfully deny his involvement, he’s chosen to stay quiet and hope it all just passes.
This is an entirely plausible explanation for the facts we know. And it’s more believable than the story now being told that Terry knows nothing and can say nothing to help investigators get to the bottom of this – despite the attack being reported right after it happened and a suspect’s name being provided.
Plus, this story explains Houston’s silence. After all, to believe Houston had nothing to do with this is to believe an uninvolved, innocent man – a public official – has said absolutely nothing in his defense, not even being able to bring himself to offer a simple denial that he did not, in fact, stab another man.
But maybe I’m wrong. Maybe there’s another explanation. Houston – who is seeking reelection to his Ward 2 seat this fall – is free to come forward and clear up the whole thing.
But he hasn’t.
That speaks volumes.