July 16, 2013

Man who reportedly used ‘KKK’ knife facing trial for attempted murder

Rachel Brown

— A man who authorities said had a history of drug abuse when he admitted to cutting another man with a Ku Klux Klan knife is tentatively scheduled for trial next month.

John Steven Chynoweth, 21, of 418 Rebecca St., Jasper, was charged in March 2012 by the Dalton Police Department with aggravated assault-other weapon and criminal attempt to commit a felony. A Whitfield County grand jury later indicted him on the upgraded charge of attempted murder. He remains in the Whitfield County jail without bond.

On Monday, a tentative trial date was set for Aug. 12 in Judge William T. Boyett’s courtroom, but first, Chynoweth is undergoing a psychological evaluation.

According to police reports detailing interviews with several witnesses, Chynoweth, who is white, was involved in a verbal and physical altercation with a coworker who has a Hispanic last name and who Chynoweth referred to as a “n-----.”

Chynoweth later admitted to police he stabbed the man, Kenny Rosales of Dalton, in the throat with a knife that had the words “Ku Klux Klan” on it and also had a picture of four Klansmen in full Klan dress. Several witnesses told police they saw Rosales running away from Chynoweth and that Chynoweth had voiced concern about Hispanics planning to “gang up on him.” Attempts to reach Rosales were unsuccessful.

Police department spokesman Bruce Frazier said it’s easy to obtain material with KKK symbols on the Internet and that the department hasn’t had any reports of organized KKK activity in Dalton.

“There’s no indication that we have anything like that operating here,” he said.

Public Defender Mike McCarthy, who is representing Chynoweth, didn’t immediately return messages seeking comment on Monday, but District Attorney Bert Poston said the defense decided to call an expert witness to testify as to sanity and that the state plans to do an independent psychological evaluation of Chynoweth.

According to police reports, Chynoweth was charged in an unrelated incident in Murray County about a month before the altercation and went into a coma from a meth overdose. A witness told authorities he believed Chynoweth’s drug abuse had made him increasingly paranoid. Another witness said Chynoweth told him he believed Rosales was planning to help a war lord in South Africa kidnap children.

Asked if he was a member of a “white supremacist group,” Chynoweth told an officer he would rather not talk about the issue, according to a police report.