The first stop was at Bearden’s farm home in Anniston, the second was at his ranch home less than two miles away.
Calhoun County Circuit Judge Malcolm Street told the jurors they were to take mental notes at the two visits, which each lasted less than 10 minutes. They were instructed not to talk to each other or anyone else about what they saw.
The jurors also heard testimony from about a dozen witnesses, including Bearden’s neighbors and his wife, Janet.
The mayor’s residency has been in question since 2008, when he ran for mayor. He maintains that he lives at two houses, one in Anniston and one in Weaver. But some say he lives at his Anniston home.
From the witness stand, Janet Bearden echoed her husband’s testimony from earlier in the trial. Testifying that she and Garry Bearden live in both residences, Janet Bearden said the couple moved from their Weaver home in December of 2006 or January of 2007, shortly after the Anniston farm home was built. The couple began going back and forth between the two residences, she said.
By the time of the mayoral election, Garry Bearden was living in both residences, his wife said. The Beardens continued living that way until about a year ago when, she said, they moved to Ridge Drive.
“Yes we moved to 1200 Ridge Drive after this lawsuit began. Yes. Yes because I’d been under so much stress for so long,” Janet Bearden said. “I didn’t say we’ve always lived at Ridge Drive, I said we never vacated it. We have two addresses. We have two homes.”
Garry Bearden also said from the stand that the couple moved back to Ridge Drive about a year ago.
That conflicts with testimony provided by Weaver Officer Charles Plitt.
Plitt said Wednesday that the Beardens’ Weaver home was burglarized several times in 2011, prompting the department to place the residence under video surveillance in March.
According to Plitt’s testimony, the video surveillance captured movement at Bearden’s home for about a month in 2011.
During that time period, Bearden stayed at the Weaver home no more than two nights, according to Plitt’s testimony.
“You have this video up for three and a half to four weeks and there are only two occasions where Mr. and Mrs. Bearden spend the night. Is that right?” attorney Shaun Quinlan asked the officer. Quinlan represents the plaintiff, Weaver City Councilman Mike Warren.
“That I can testify to that based on the video, yes sir,” Plitt said.
Janet Bearden said, despite the officer’s testimony, that she and her husband stayed at the Weaver home for more than two nights during the time the home was under surveillance.
Testimony concluded Wednesday with Bearden’s witnesses. Both of the neighbors said Bearden frequently drives past their homes.
One neighbor, who lives on Ridge Drive, said the mayor and his wife appear to live at the Weaver home.
If Bearden lives outside the city limits, he would be ineligible to serve as mayor. The jury will be asked to settle the matter after closing arguments, which are expected to end today.
Star staff writer Laura Johnson:256-235-3544.