GREENVILLE, PITT COUNTY - A high-profile Greenville attorney, accused of intimidating a state witness, faced a judge on Friday.
David C. Sutton, 50, has been charged with intimidating a state witness for allegedly threatening a sheriff's detective, who is a witness in a child abuse case. That case involves the wife of former Simpson Police Chief John Waters.
At Sutton's first court appearance Friday morning, he was told he could get up to four years and two months in prison if convicted. A probable cause hearing has been scheduled for July 18.
Meanwhile, investigators have released the voicemail that Sutton allegedly left for the detective:
"I don't know what you're doing. You obviously don't know what the hell you're doing. So I'm just going to whoop your ass real bad next week unless you get your ass down there and get this case dismissed. Do you job and have some sense."
Sutton's supporters said the lawyer's arrest was in retaliation for statements Sutton made at an NAACP news conference on Wednesday. Sutton spoke on behalf of the family of a 7-year-old girl who was allegedly raped in a bathroom of Pactolus Elementary School. During the news conference, Sutton accused the Pitt County Sheriff's Office of failing to conduct a full investigation on the case.
But Sheriff Neil Elks said he was not even aware of Sutton's statements until after Sutton was arrested on Wednesday.
Sutton's lawyer, Matthew Jackson, issued his own response to Sutton's arrest.
"David in no way intended to threaten the officer. It's absurd that they would think he did that and frankly it kind of defies logic. I think it's been taken way out of proportion, at no point did anyone contact David before the warrant was served to get his side of what was said or what was going on."
Sutton's law office is located on Regency Boulevard in Greenville. According to his website, he has more than 15 years of experience as a lawyer.
Sutton has been involved in several high-profile cases in Eastern Carolina. In addition to the Pactolus Elementary case, he also represented the family of Maleek Gorham, the high school football player who was ruled ineligible to play at DH Conley because of residency issues.