Trip to Madison nets house arrest for ‘Mutt’ Wallace

Published 5:00 am Tuesday, June 4, 2002

MAGNOLIA – Earl “Mutt” Wallace, under a chancery court order tohave no visitation with his four children, was placed on indefinite”house arrest” Monday after learning his ex-wife Kristin’s locationand traveling to Madison last week to see his children.

Wallace, on non-adjudicated probation after pleading guilty toan interstate removal of a child charge May 13, faced a revocationhearing Monday at the Pike County Courthouse following the incidentlast Tuesday in Madison. Kristin Wallace filed a stalking chargeagainst Mutt Wallace after he was spotted near a neighbor’s home,she said.

Wallace said he learned of his ex-wife’s location through adetective agency and went to Madison to check on his children. Hesaid he had heard one of children had sustained a broken arm anddescribed his trip as an “innocent act” to see them.

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“I just wanted to make sure my kids were OK,” Wallace said.

Wallace said he called to his son Hunter, who was outsideKristin Wallace’s home, and waved to him during the incident. WhenHunter went inside, Wallace said he left.

Judge Keith Starrett ruled that the single incident did notconstitute stalking and therefore was not a probation violation.However, he said there was justification for modifying theconditions of Wallace’s probation.

“The act you did may not have been a violation of the law, butit certainly was not smart,” Starrett told Wallace.

Starrett ordered Wallace to “strictly comply” with a 500-foottemporary restraining order agreement reached Friday in chancerycourt and to stay out of Madison County. There will be exceptionsfor court proceedings.

The judge also ordered Wallace, who is staying with his sisterin Brookhaven, placed under “house arrest” until a pending chancerycourt custody dispute is finally resolved. Wallace was given untilthe end of the week to be enrolled in the Intensive SupervisionProgram.

When the chancery court matter will be resolved was unclearMonday. A hearing is scheduled for June 27, but Kristin Wallace’sattorney, Woody Breeland, said that date was “highly unlikely”because of some discovery and other issues involving theparties.

While Mutt Wallace said his actions were innocent, KristinWallace offered a different reaction to seeing him near herhome.

“I was very terrified,” she said.

Kristin Wallace said it was very surprising to see him inMadison, and she was scared he would take Hunter.

“He had recently written letters saying that he would continueto fight for them,” Kristin said.

Earlier in her testimony, Kristin described the actions she tookto keep her new residence a secret from Mutt Wallace. Kristin saidshe told very few people and had an unlisted phone number for theresidence, where she and the children have been living since May10.

“We were relocating to try and feel safe somewhere and startover,” Kristin Wallace said.

Other prosecution witnesses Monday included MDOC field officerJohn Goza and Hunter Wallace, who testified in the judge’schambers.

On the witness stand, Mutt Wallace said his attorney, JackAinsworth, had advised him not to call or visit the children.

However, Wallace said no one had told him he could not go seehis children. He said he wouldn’t try to see the children again butpromised to continue to seek custody of them.

“I’m here to fight the court battle legally,” Wallace said.

Under cross examination, Wallace acknowledged he had no businessin the immediate vicinity around his ex-wife’s home. Wallace, whois disabled, said he travels to Jackson for various activities.

Others testifying Monday included the Rev. Robert Oates andSheriff Lynn Boyte, who were called by the defense as characterwitnesses.

In closing arguments, District Attorney Danny Smith said MuttWallace’s action “flies in the face” of the court order.

“I think his conduct demonstrates the Mr. Wallace cannot betrusted,” Smith said, adding that Wallace was given leniency afterpleading guilty earlier.

Ainsworth countered that Wallace’s action was not stalking.While no one told him not to go see his children, Wallace could seehow his action could have been interpreted, the attorney said.

“He understands now the gravity, looking back, how this could betaken,” Ainsworth said.

Ainsworth also referred to about 15 people who were in thecourtroom to show their support for Mutt Wallace.

“These people believe in him, and they think he’s trying to dowhat’s right,” Ainsworth said.

In making his ruling, Starrett said he was impressed with HunterWallace’s testimony and how he corroborated the events of lastTuesday. The judge said the four children were caught up in adispute between the mother and father, who divorced lastOctober.

“This is a situation Solomon himself would have trouble dealingwith,” Starrett said.

After modifying Mutt Wallace’s probation, Starrett said he washopeful that some resolution could be reached in chancery court toallow both parents to be involved in their children’s lives.

“Everyone benefits when the father and mother participate intheir children’s upbringing,” Starrett said.