I hope everyone enjoyed the past few weekends of Spring. I was fortunate to spend some time with my family as we celebrated the Easter Holiday together with worship, a feast, and an Easter egg hunt.
By DISTRICT ATTORNEY MARIE BRODER
I am blessed to have a grandmother that hosts this family tradition. I relish her stories about her life and her memories of those that have passed. These are borrowed moments that I don’t take for granted. I hope y’all enjoy them, too. In a world that seems to have lost its mind, it’s nice to have beautiful moments with family.
While I hope many of you were enjoying the Spring season, my office was hard at work tackling serious crimes in the courtroom. Two recent jury trials involved a common charge: armed robbery. Armed robbery is when a person, with the intent to commit theft, takes property from another person by use of an “offensive weapon.” An offensive weapon is typically a knife or a gun, but the law also treats replicas that are designed to look like knives or guns as sufficient to be armed robbery.
The minimum punishment for this crime is ten years and the maximum is life with the possibility of parole. Under the maximum sentence, a defendant can be eligible for parole after thirty years.
Armed robbery carries serious consequences for good reason. Citizens and their communities cannot thrive where people have no sense of security in their lives, their homes, and in their possessions. Armed robbery also leads to violence and death.
In this Circuit, over the past month, we prosecuted armed robberies that resulted in both violence and death. A Fayette County jury and Spalding County jury had the courage to hold these criminals to account.
On April 14, 2022, a Fayette County jury convicted Joseph Huggins for armed robbery and possession of a firearm during the commission of a crime. The victim in that case was helping his family move to Tyrone, Georgia, when some temporary workers were assigned to help him with the move. After entering a vehicle with the defendants, they pointed a gun at him and took everything in his possession, including: money, identification, a phone, credit cards, and his Bluetooth earbuds. The defendants then kicked him out of the car and left him on the side of the road. The victim had to walk home before calling law enforcement.
The Honorable Scott L. Ballard sentenced Huggins him to 15 years for Armed Robbery and 5 years for the firearm charge. Huggins’ co-defendant will be tried later.
Despite being terrorized with weapons, stripped of his possessions, and left on the side of the road, Mr. Huggins’ victim’s life was spared.
In another case charged as armed robbery, the pull of a trigger left Mr. Anthony Reid with a much more horrible fate. On August 31, 2020, Sonya Fuller called her son, Joshua Fuller, to her hotel room at the Quality Inn and Suites in Griffin.
Anthony Reid, a 52-year old man from Griffin was in that hotel room. Joshua Fuller, who is a resident of Riverdale, entered the hotel room and shot and killed Mr. Reid. The jury also heard evidence that money had been taken from Mr. Reid.
The Jury found Joshua Fuller guilty of felony murder, aggravated assault, and other charges related to possession of a firearm. Fuller’s mother was found to be a party to the crime and also convicted of Felony Murder, and Aggravated Assault.
The Honorable Judge W. Fletcher Sams sentenced both defendants to the maximum sentence for felony murder — life without parole.
The love of Mr. Reid’s family was on full display during the sentencing phase of the trial. I hope that the end of this trial allows them to begin the long, difficult process of healing when someone’s loved one is killed in a violent act.
Over the course of my career, I have aggressively prosecuted armed robberies because the line between taking someone’s possessions and someone’s life is a trigger pull away. I have also found that many defendants who commit armed robbery will commit the same crime again.
Unfortunately, for some people, realizing that you can take what you want through a threat of violence only encourages more of the same. In this Circuit, however, my office will not tolerate lawlessness and those that commit armed robbery will be faced with the appropriate punishment.
I am thankful to Assistant District Attorney Monique Harris, Assistant District Attorney Adelle Petersen, Chief Assistant District Attorney David Studdard, and all of our supporting investigators and victim advocates for their hard work.
I also want to thank our partners at the Fayette County Sheriff’s Office and the Spalding County Sheriff’s Office who also helped us to present well-investigated cases. Our team work has made this Circuit a safer place. In this Easter season, may we all remember to love each other, despite our differences. Until next time, stay safe and please be kind to one another.
[Marie Broder has served as the Griffin Judicial Circuit district attorney since 2020. She resides in Griffin.]