Criminal trial for suspended Columbus District Attorney is underway

Published: Nov. 9, 2021 at 1:44 PM EST
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COLUMBUS, Ga. (WTVM) - After several hours of delays, the criminal trial for suspended Chattahoochee Judicial Circuit District Attorney Mark Jones began shortly after 10:00 a.m. Tuesday morning.

Much of the morning was spent hashing out pre-trial issues surrounding multiple subpoenas filed the night before and a 200-plus witness list filed by Jones and his defense.

At the end of Tuesday’s discussions, Jones’ defense attorney Katonga Wright, a local lawyer in Columbus, requested to postpone the case once again to allow adequate time to prepare for the case.

Wright made her first appearance Monday - during jury selection. She had just received the case after Jones’ previous attorney, Chris Breault, was disqualified as Jones’ council.

A judge cited Breault’s representation of Jones would be considered a conflict of interest because Breault is a material witness.

Opening statements started with prosecutor John Fowler arguing the case and presenting the State’s case to the jurors. Fowler repeated the phrase, “With great power comes great responsibility,” when describing Jones’ actions and alleged abuse of power.

Fowler described Jones as a prosecutor who has gone too far.

Jones’ attorney, Katonga Wright, argued Jones is a passionate newly-elected district attorney who cares about his community. Wright told jurors there are two sides to every story and encouraged them to listen to all the facts presented to them.

So far, the State of Georgia has called two witnesses with the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, and more are expected to be called Tuesday afternoon.

Jones is facing nine felony counts to include alleged bribery and influencing a witness. Prosecutors allege Jones attempted to persuade a Columbus police officer to lie about a murder case which would upgrade 20-year-old Elijah Farral’s involuntary manslaughter charges to murder.

The officer declined citing the evidence did not support Jones’ claims of the suspects intended to shoot and kill 18-year-old Sara Holtrop.

Jones is also accused of bribing two of his assistant district attorneys with $1000 bonuses.

Prosecutors said Jones offered now acting D.A. Sheneeka Terry $1000 to secure a murder conviction in a case, and Kimberly Schwartz $1000 to announce to a judge a case was ready for trial when it was not.

If you missed trial coverage Tuesday, watch below:

Stay with News Leader 9 as we continue to cover the case.

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