A Chattanooga business owner’s lawyer, who alleged the media was “easily manipulated” by victims, will have his client back in court on Sept. 19.
Trent Wichman, the owner of Wichman Monuments, is facing possible prison time after his company did not finish headstones for several customers.
According to the victims, he took money for these headstones, but never followed up on these commitments before closing his company.
Wichman was then charged with eight counts of theft of property. Benjamin McGowan, his lawyer, was thought to possibly be considering a plea deal before today, but a plea deal was not mentioned during his time in Judge Barry Steelman’s courtroom in Criminal Court.
After speaking with his lawyer for a few minutes, Wichman approached the stand with the attorney.
“There have been individuals who, for whatever reason, are not necessarily victims of the case who are interested in creating some media enthusiasm about this case,” said the defense lawyer, “and so what I think we’re dealing with here is pressure coming in from the outside, that is in no small part, interfering with the ability to actually discern who has not been made a fool and who hasn’t.”
He called the media accounts of the story “incomplete, at best.” He also said that while the business did close, all assets had been handed over to another party, who could have done more after the “Wichman” was taken out of “Wichman Monuments.”
Prosecuting attorney Andrew Coyle said there had been no kind of offer made to the defendant. He said there were eight victims in the case, and that the state had contacted seven of them, and they were in the process of trying to reach the eighth.
Following these statements, the new court date was agreed upon. Afterward, Mr. McGowan, said, “I don’t comment on pending litigation. What we have to say, we’ll say in court,” said the lawyer, “I think the media has proven itself to be very easily manipulated, with respect to these alleged victims, and that I’m not making any comment on the record.”