SANDERSVILLE, Ga. (AP) — A new prosecutor has been assigned to consider retrying three former Georgia sheriff’s deputies accused of killing a man who was walking down a country road when they electrocuted him with stun guns. stun guns during an arrest in 2017.
Local media reports that Columbus-based District Attorney Stacey Jackson was assigned to the case after the district attorney where the death occurred stepped aside.
A judge declared mistrials in October 2021 after Washington County juries deadlocked in deliberations over the guilt of Henry Lee Copeland, Michael Howell and Rhett Scott.
All three were charged with murder, manslaughter, false arrest, aggravated assault, simple assault and reckless conduct in the July 2017 death of 58-year-old Eurie Martin.
Martin’s family and friends have been pushing for another trial.
“It has been agonizing. Just wait and see who will take this case. Will you try, right? We want a fair trial and we want the killers behind bars,” Barbara Evans, Martin’s sister, he told WMAZ-TV.
Officers attempted to arrest Martin, who had a history of schizophrenia, after a Deepstep village resident called 911 to report him as a suspect after he approached the person and asked for a drink of water. Martin was walking 30 miles (50 kilometers) on a hot day to see his relatives for his birthday.
Martin was black, while the three deputies now fired are white.
Prosecutors argued that Copeland, Howell and Scott had There is no reason to stop Martin.. They pointed to video evidence that they said showed officers were unreasonably aggressive, as well as testimony from some witnesses. Agents repeatedly shocked him with stun guns for up to 90 seconds, handcuffed Martin and discovered minutes later that he had no pulse, video showed.
defense attorneysHowever, he said Martin had illegally walked on the road, littered when he dropped a soda can, and taken an aggressive stance and obstructed an officer when he did not obey officers’ commands. They also argued that the stun gun did not cause Martin’s death, which meant officers were not attacking him with a deadly weapon, a key underlying element of one of the murder charges.
District Attorney Tripp Fitzner recused himself after the mistrial, citing a conflict, and asked that another prosecutor be appointed.
Pete Skandalakis, executive director of the Council of Prosecutors, said Jackson’s office is equipped to handle these types of cases.
“This case has some notoriety. It has some serious implications. You want to give it to someone who has the experience … and can handle this case,” Skandalakis said.
Jackson will decide whether to try the men again or not. He could also seek new charges. For now, he has not made a decision.
“I haven’t received the file yet”, Jackson told the Columbus Ledger-Enquirer. “I received the order last week.”
For now, the former deputies are still charged and released on bail.
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