Racial murder case topped DA’s docket

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Prosecutors clear 10 murder cases, post overall 95% conviction rate in Griffin Circuit — 

Griffin Judicial Circuit District Attorney Ben Coker last month released a “2018 Year in Review” in which he commented on the a number of cases pertaining to Fayette County. Coker also had high praise for the staff working in the district attorney’s offices.

Griffin Judicial Circuit District Attorney Ben Coker. Photo/Submitted.
Griffin Judicial Circuit District Attorney Ben Coker. Photo/Submitted.

“2018 was quite the year for the Griffin Judicial Circuit. We tried a 34-year-old (Spalding County) cold case, and cleared 10 murder cases off of the docket. These two accomplishments are impressive standing alone, but I am also happy to report that my offices diligently worked to reduce the backlog. Most cases in my offices are seeing a courtroom within 12 months. That is an exceptional improvement. We will continue to work to reduce that time period even more,” Coker said.

Coker said that, during the year, he asked his staff, and especially the attorneys in his offices, to accomplish a number of daunting goals this year.

“They impressed me with their dedication to the job,” Coker noted. “We tried an incredible amount of cases this year. For some perspective, in 2017, we tried 10 cases as a circuit. This year, we doubled that number with 21. Our conviction rate is 95 percent. It’s a staggering statistic and a great testament to the people that work for me. Thank you will never be enough to them, but thank them I do. They are warriors. I am honored to work alongside these people. Their work in the community and in the courtroom is unmatched.”

Among the 2018 cases involving Fayette County reviewed by Coker were:

• Three men pled guilty to malice murder for the 2017 home invasion death of Albert DeMagnus in Fayette County — District Attorney Coker, Deputy Chief Assistant District Attorney Warren Sellers and Assistant District Attorney Dan Hiatt prepared to try the case for the state. Prior to jury selection, the defendants (Travione Reynolds, Kavion Tookes and Jeffrey Wallace) all entered guilty pleas to each count in the indictment. They were each sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole. These three defendants drove into Fayette County from Atlanta and broke into the home of a Fayette County couple. While inside, they stabbed the male victim, held the female victim at gun-point and stole multiple items of property from the home, including jewelry and United States currency.

• Fayetteville man, Mustafa Mahdi, convicted of murder — Senior Assistant District Attorney Dan Hiatt and Chief Assistant District Attorney Marie Broder tried the State of Georgia vs. Mustafa Mahdi. A Fayette County jury convicted Mahdi of stabbing his uncle over 75 times. The jury determined that the defendant was guilty but mentally ill. Judge Sams sentenced the defendant to life in prison.

• Fayette County child molester sentenced to 20 years in prison – Assistant District Attorney Christy Jindra represented the state in a plea of guilty by Francisco Jaime to child molestation. The defendant received 20 years in prison followed by 20 years on probation.

• Fayetteville man convicted of child molestation after a trial — A Fayette County jury convicted Ciro Martines-Montes of three counts of child molestation. He was sentenced to 10 years in prison followed by 50 years on probation. Assistant District Attorney Dan Hiatt tried the case for the state. The victim testified at trial.

• Karen Price pled guilty to racketeering — Price entered a non-negotiated guilty plea to racketeering after the Peachtree City Police Department and the Georgia Bureau of Investigation concluded that Price stole $133,683.05 from Cooper Lighting. The thefts occurred over several years and were discovered after a transition in the company occurred. She pled guilty to making unauthorized cash advances, along with false expense reimbursement requests. She was sentenced to 20 years with the first five years to be served in prison.

• 18-year-old Fayette man pled guilty to multiple counts including home invasion and armed robbery — Javion Bowe was sentenced to 20 years with the first 15 years to be served in prison for entering a Fayette County home, holding the victim at gunpoint, restraining him with duct tape, and taking a television, pellet rifle, Xbox, and United States currency. Bowe also entered a plea to attempted murder of a witness and sentenced to 10 years in prison. Bowe offered to pay another individual to kill the victim in the home invasion case. Deputy Chief Assistant District Attorney Warren Sellers handled the case for the state.

• Fayetteville man to spend 15 years in prison for shooting victim — Assistant District Attorneys David Studdard and Christy Jindra tried Alvin Crouch for shooting a Fayetteville woman in the leg. His sentence is 20 years with the first 15 to be served in prison. The 60-year-old victim testified at trial.

“As a circuit, we are ready for 2019. We continue to grow in our knowledge and abilities,” Coker said. “Please know how much your trust in me means. I appreciate the opportunity to work for you, and I will continue the fight to keep you safe. Happy Holidays, and I hope you all have a blessed 2019.”

For more information on the Griffin Judicial Circuit District Attorney’s Office visit www.dagriffincircuit.org or on Facebook, @gjcdistrictattorney.