A Tennessee boat repairman is alleging a TV show and the Gallatin Police Department defamed him by suggesting he was involved in a 2010 murder on an episode of Cold Justice.
Joshua Singletary claims police and the Cold Justiceseries' California-based producers Magical Elves Inc. and Wolf Reality LLC have painted him in a false light and violated his rights in a lawsuit filed Aug. 15 with the Sumner County Circuit Court in Gallatin.
Hosts of TNT's Cold Justice visited Gallatin in January to examine the unresolved murder case of Lydia Naomi Gutierrez, whose 8-year-old son found her suffocated and stabbed to death in August 2010 at the family's home.
Found at the hospital, where he was being treated for cuts, Singletary was arrested and charged with first-degree murder on the day of the slaying. Following an investigation, in October 2010 local prosecutors dismissed charges against Singletary at the state's request because of insufficient evidence.
The show's hosts — former Texas prosecutor of 21 years Kelly Siegler and Yolanda McClary, a former crime investigator with the Las Vegas Police Department — spent two weeks working with Gallatin Police Sgt. Chris Shockley and investigator Daniel Soto to review Gutierrez's case, which remains open, police spokesman Bill Storment said.
The findings of the case examination were revealed in an episode that aired on TV in February and then again in April. The episode can be viewed through the show's website and on YouTube.
Based on Siegler's and McClary's interpretation of the crime scene, new developments suggest the murder could have occurred in the afternoon as opposed to the morning. Witnesses further have told police they saw a green van leave the area after the murder. At the time, Singletary's sister Jessica owned a green van, Shockley said.
The Singletary family, however, says the van was in New Jersey, where Jessica was visiting her grandmother.
The TV series' claims of new evidence are false, Singletary's White House-based attorney Joseph Zanger said.
"The television production turned up no new evidence, and to have characterized Mr. Singletary the way they did caused him immeasurable damage," Zanger said.
Lost income, home
After the show aired, Singletary, who washes and repairs sailboats and yachts, lost clients and business amounting to thousands of dollars, according the the lawsuit. He was also asked to leave the apartment he was living in and has not been able to rent a home, all as a result of the show, the lawsuit alleges.
The document includes pages of up-to-the second citations from the show of quotes from hosts and Gallatin police. Show quotes reportedly include, "We are left with just one suspect, Joshua Singletary" and that Singletary is "either involved or the unluckiest man in the world." The show further implies Singletary has "lied," was "stalking" the victim and is "violent."
Further, Singletary did not agree for his voice to be used in a phone call during the show or for his image to be aired 14 times in full-screen or close-ups as cited in the lawsuit.
The show, which up to the lawsuit filing date had been viewed more than 5,300 times online, leaves the "unmistakable impression with the audience that (Singletary) is the killer," which is putting him in a false light and damaging his reputation on daily basis, the lawsuit claims.
The lawsuit further argues that the show does not mention that charges were dropped against Singletary.
Singletary is asking for $100,000 in compensatory damages and for an undefined amount of punitive compensations to be determined by a jury.