Chattahoochee Judicial Circuit District Attorney weighs in on plea deals in Circuit

Often times, families impacted by violent crimes seek justice through the court system. But sometimes the conclusion is not always what they are hoping for.
Published: Sep. 2, 2021 at 9:35 PM EDT
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COLUMBUS, Ga. (WTVM) - Often times, families impacted by violent crimes seek justice through the court system. But sometimes the conclusion is not always what they are hoping for.

Tangi Shorter is seeking justice for her son, 18-year-old Javion Shorter, a Kendrick High School senior, who was killed four years ago at Ballard Way apartments in Columbus. While she would like to see her son’s case wrapped up, she’s not sure a plea deal will bring him the justice she believes he deserves.

His mother told News Leader 9, District Attorney Mark Jones told her about the possibility of a plea deal being on the table in the case. According to Shorter, one person in the case would plea to a lesser sentence, and the murder charge would be downgraded to manslaughter. Shorter told News Leader 9, she does not agree with the plea deal and wants the three people accused to go to trial and have to face the maximum penalty for her sons death.

“I’m not going for no plea deal because my son is not here. He has a daughter who’s now five. We not finna plea no case out,” said Shorter. “You telling the community and you’re telling me, I can go out here, shoot somebody, get ten years and go out here and do it again.”

Shorter’s result could possibly resemble the conclusion of the 2018 Destinee Virgin murder trial, where the boyfriend of an 18-year-old girl gunned her down in the middle of traffic at the intersection of Macon and Rigdon Road in Columbus. That ended in a plea deal with Markel Ervin getting a life sentence with the possibility of parole after 35 years.

Mechelle Virgin, the mother of Destinee Virgin told News Leader 9 she was unsatisfied with result in the case and did not support Ervin getting a plea deal, because it was not something she had previously discussed with the prosecutors on her case.

“When he shot Destinee out of that car. Out of that moving vehicle, and her body was hanging out of that car. And he shot her from behind,” said Virgin. “She’s running from you and you shot her from behind. He could have shot the lady. What then Mark Jones? You were still going to give him a plea deal?”

District Attorney Mark Jones told News Leader 9, most cases do end in a guilty plea in exchange for a lighter sentence except for certain circumstances, like death penalty cases.

“If you don’t plead out cases, if you don’t allow defendants to accept responsibility for whatever they did, then there’s too many cases. The system would not work,” said Jones. “I want to make sure the victims are happy but at the end of the day, we do have to make an informed decision and there are real cost associated with trying a case to a jury. You don’t want to just try every case necessarily because there’s so many and it does cost money to fly in witnesses. A lot of people relocate in this area, it’s a very transitional area. You do want to give defendants who want to take a plea credit for accepting responsibility on a case, and sometimes that may mean reducing a charge or reducing the amount of a time on a sentence on a case.”

For a break down of case types for the year so far, view the document here.

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