Family of 2016 Columbus house party murder victim suing county

Published: Oct. 18, 2022 at 5:39 PM EDT
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COLUMBUS, Ga. (WTVM) - While a Columbus family is waiting on the wheels of justice to turn for their loved one that was murdered six years ago, they are now taking legal action.

The family wants a judge to help move the case along in Muscogee County -- an issue that has been on hold since 2016.

“You see now why criminals are not afraid to do what they do because there’s no consequence,” said Dawn Boyd, the victim’s mother.

This is a hard reality for the family of Richard Collier.

He was shot and killed six years ago during a house party on Hodge Drive in Columbus. The suspect, Drevon Johnson, has been waiting nearly seven years to go to trial -- the first case deadlocked this year.

“He’s not a boy scout.”

Now the Collier family is suing Muscogee County and the state of Georgia due to a lack of communication from prosecutors. So they’ve hired Civil Rights Attorney Kianna Chennault of Atlanta.

She claims the Collier’s due process rights as crime victims were violated under what is known as Marsy’s Law.

“One of the main rights that a crime victim has is communication,” Chennault said.

The family claims that did not happen often.

“You saw that trial just happened quick, and it was like, yeah, this could happen, and then all of a sudden, I couldn’t even get in touch with the attorney general,” said Boyd.

Collier was 24 years old when he was gunned down in May 2016 at a house party in Columbus. Years later, the Colliers are still carrying the pain and seeking justice for what they describe as a flawed system.

“It is rare that you see a murder case sit for so long. Especially when there’s a suspect in custody,” the family’s attorney said.

Part of the problem has to do with ongoing conflicts within the district attorney’s office, starting with the conviction of former DA Mark Jones.

The case is now set for November. Johnson’s defense attorney s preparing for court but is skeptical about the lawsuit.

“I just want to make sure that it doesn’t infringe upon my client’s right to due process, and he gets a fair trial,” said Johnson’s attorney.

“This is not the way it should be, and we need to change,” said Boyd.

“They would like victims to never have to go through this again,” said Chennault.

Anthony Johnson represents Drevon Johnson in the Collier case.

He says he’s confident going into trial following an eight to four split jury, leaning towards a not guilty verdict, in the last case tried in 2021.