Local attorney breaks down charges against Muscogee Co. DA Mark Jones
COLUMBUS, Ga. (WTVM) - The nine-count indictment filed by the State Attorney General’s Office Tuesday alleges Muscogee County District Attorney Mark Jones violated his oath of office, by bribing his assistant district attorneys and trying to influence a police witness.
Jones says he was shocked by the allegations and denies all of them. Wednesday, the self-proclaimed ‘people’s district attorney’, filed an emergency leave of absence for September 8 - 22.
News Leader 9 reached out to the D.A.’s office to see who would be filling in during absence of Jones. Initially, the person on the other end of the line declined to comment. However, Jones says he will continue to run the office. In a text he said, “I am still the D.A. until someone tells me otherwise.”
Local Attorney Anthony Johnson broke down what the charges mean for Jones. He says, if convicted, it would bring into question the cases the Jones office prosecuted over the last nine months since taking office.
“I think he has good intentions, it’s just the execution of how it’s manifesting. I think that’s the issue, Johnson said. “Count one is where you’re trying to influence a witness as charged, and then two - you have the subjugation of perjury, which means that you’re trying to get a person to lie under oath and then three - which is a violation of the oath of office, which is really the same thing.”
“We’re going to have to see what other cases were presented to the grand jury, in which there could have been some false testimony, what other convictions were obtained when the integrity of the system was in question. In my opinion, we have to do that,” he continued.
According to the indictment, the first three counts stem from the case of 18-year-old Sara Holtrop, a Harris County girl who was shot and killed while sleeping on a couch earlier this year in Columbus.
The indictment goes on to say Jones is accused of trying to convince a detective in the case to testify that the 18 year old was cheating on the suspect, Elijah Farral, in hopes the police officer’s testimony would be enough to upgrade his charges to murder.
Jones is also accused of offering payouts of $1,000 to his assistant district attorneys for closing murder cases. According to the attorney general’s office, if convicted, Jones could face more than 30 years behind bars.
After being released from the Muscogee County Jail Tuesday evening, Jones spoke with reporters.
“I’ve been on the job nine months and fighting really hard for the people, you know, trying cases, and this happens. I did not do what they said I did, apparently it’s some pretty serious stuff,” Jones said. “I didn’t take any bribe, I didn’t influence any witness, I didn’t try to suborn perjury. So, I don’t know what they’re talking about.”
News Leader reached out to the mother of 18-year-old Sara Holtrop. She said the whole situation is upsetting and declined to comment further. She also added that her daughter would have turned 19 years old today.
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