Campaign HQ fight, macing goes to court

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By April Wright, Reporter

Two individuals accused of assaulting and pepper-spraying five people at the Republican campaign headquarters in Galax shortly before the 2008 presidential election were convicted of lesser charges of disorderly conduct in Galax General District Court on Monday.

Daniel Cason Meinecke, 29, of Galax — charged with one count of misdemeanor assault of Galax Republican Party Chairman Michael Stevens — was convicted of the reduced charge of disorderly conduct, a misdemeanor. Meinecke will serve 100 hours of community service and 60 days of jail, suspended.

Cara Annice Hindman, 26, of Galax — initially charged with five counts of misdemeanor assault and battery — was also found guilty of disorderly conduct and sentenced to community service, suspended jail time (three sentences of 60 days each) and a $1,000 fine, $500 suspended. Two assault charges were dropped.

Meinecke and Hindman were both ordered to have no contact with the victims.

The lesser charges were the result of a plea agreement.

Assault charges were also dropped on Monday against Stevens and David Matthews, a man who was at the campaign office at the time of the altercation. Meinecke and Hindman had filed charges against them.

Galax Police Chief Rick Clark told The Gazette after the Oct. 27, 2008, incident that officers were dispatched to the Galax Republican headquarters on East Grayson Street when a caller reported that someone had sprayed office workers with Mace. Officers arrested Meinecke and Hindman.

Stevens, one of those sprayed, said Hindman and Meinecke came into the office and asked for Democratic campaign yard signs. When Stevens told the two that the Democratic headquarters was located up the street, Meinecke allegedly said he thought his Democratic signs were being stolen by Republican campaign volunteers.

The confrontation escalated, and Stevens asked Hindman and Meinecke to leave. Stevens said the couple refused.

“I kind of moved them towards the door and he lashed out at me,” Stevens said shortly after the incident. “So I lashed out at him.”

According to Stevens, no punches were thrown, but the two held each other at bay. He said Hindman sprayed mace on him and inside of the building.

“There was no business that this gentleman had to do in the office. We didn't do anything... We didn't steal his signs,” Stevens said.

Before the election, Stevens said tension between the Republican and Democratic campaigns had elevated.

Meinecke was alleged to have assaulted Stevens, and Hindman was alleged to have sprayed Stevens and others with Mace.

After they were charged, Hindman and Meinecke filed misdemeanor assault charges against Stevens and Matthews.

According to court documents, Meinecke stated that “during a heated conversation about stolen political yard signs, Michael Stevens grabbed me by my sweatshirt and chest.” He then, “shoved me onto the sidewalk, where he proceeded to pin me to a parked Geo Tracker 4-door SUV by squeezing by the throat.”

Hindman accused Matthews of acting as if he were going to hit her with his fist. Hindman said she sprayed Matthews with Mace because she felt threatened.

The charges against Stevens and Matthews were thrown out.