Jury Trials Lost

Almost all of them….

Drug Charges Dismissed

Still counting….

Citizens Getting Concerned

More each day!

Important Updates

  • Bond Granted for Dangerous Predator Due to DA Error
    State v. Gerald Fleming As part of an investigation by GBI, Gerald Fleming of Watkinsville, Georgia was arrested for 10 counts of sexual exploitation of children on Nov. 7, 2023. The GBI conducted a search at Fleming’s residence in Oconee County and located evidence that he possessed and distributed child sexual abuse material. His request for bond was DENIED by the Magistrate Court at the time of arrest and then again by the Superior Court on December 21, 2023 due to significant threat or danger to the community and risk of re-offending. As set forth in O.C.G.A. 17-7-50, Georgia law… Read more: Bond Granted for Dangerous Predator Due to DA Error
  • Armed Robbery Dismissed – State v. Tyler Lamir Ridgeway
    Multiple errors by District Attorney Deborah Gonzalez results in dismissal of Armed Robbery and Aggravated Assault charges. Athens-Clarke County Case No. 1: Shortly after being released from jail in a nearby county on or about February 9, 2023, Mr. Tyler Lamir Ridgeway was suspected of 3 counts of Armed Robbery (Felony) and 3 counts of Aggravated Assault (Felony) related to an incident that occurred on February 16, 2023 in which three separate victims were allegedly robbed at gunpoint. Mr. Ridgeway allegedly stole a Glock handgun and U.S. currency from three males in Athens. Athens-Clarke County Case No. 2: On February… Read more: Armed Robbery Dismissed – State v. Tyler Lamir Ridgeway
  • CONVICTION: State v. Michael Lareco Daniel
    Hard work pays off…. On April 17, 2023, the District Attorney’s Office managed by Deborah Gonzalez was caught yet again unprepared for trial on a case involving rape, incest, and child molestation. Surprisingly, the prosecutor then announced that he was going to dismiss the case. Thankfully, the victim’s mother retained local counsel and filed for a hearing with the Judge based on a Marsy’s Law Violation. The mother also requested that Deborah Gonzalez and her office recuse themselves from the case. A hearing was held on May 19, 2023. The District Attorney’s Office admitted to violating the rights of the… Read more: CONVICTION: State v. Michael Lareco Daniel
  • Special Prosecutor Appointed for Recent Murder of College Student
    In what is likely an answered prayer for many, DA Gonzalez announced that she would NOT be attempting to prosecute the case against Jose Antonio Ibarra for murdering Laken Hope Riley on February 22, 2024 at UGA’s intramural fields off College Station Road. Instead, Sheila Ross, a veteran lawyer with the Prosecuting Attorney’s Council (PAC) will take full responsibility for the prosecution of the case. Despite her many shortcomings, Ms. Gonzalez should be praised for realizing that she was not capable of properly addressing this case. Relevant Court Files: News Stories https://www.11alive.com/article/news/investigations/athens-da-staffing-issues-laken-riley-murder-case/85-77df7558-7d8e-4e6f-8c6c-a0967d7a8f3a https://www.onlineathens.com/story/news/crime/2024/02/27/special-prosecutor-named-for-laken-riley-murder-case-in-athens-ga/72756923007/ https://www.wsbtv.com/news/local/athens-da-bringing-top-trial-attorney-laken-rileys-murder-case-amid-criticism-lawyers/3QU4OLPLTJG3PFWKY7A52GQC74/ https://www.11alive.com/article/news/crime/residents-who-live-in-apartment-complex-with-accused-uga-killer-brother-still-fear-for-safety/85-f06bc59e-aa93-4fa0-80b7-ff8fa3a3a60b Gov. Brian Kemp questions Athens… Read more: Special Prosecutor Appointed for Recent Murder of College Student
  • Not Guilty – Repeat Gun Offender
    On February 20, 2024, the District Attorney’s Office was hit with another “Not Guilty” verdict by a jury in Athens-Clarke County. Mr. Marcus Jamar Dowdy was charged with possession of a firearm while on probation for a first-offender felony related to the offense of entering an auto. After the trial where Ms. Gonzalez represented the State of Georgia, the jury only took approximately 15 minutes to find Mr. Dowdy NOT GUILTY. Interestingly, Mr. Dowdy has other charges in Athens-Clarke County related to even more recent illegal activity with a firearm. Incident on Sep. 11, 2023 Charges: Possession of Firearm by… Read more: Not Guilty – Repeat Gun Offender
  • Not Guilty – Alleged Serial Rapist
    District Attorney Ms. Gonzalez lost another felony trial in the case of State of Georgia vs. David Ellis Ippisch. According to the various court records, Mr. Ippisch faced a charges of rape and kidnapping related to an incident that occurred on Nov. 25, 2019 in a bar owned by Mr. Ippisch. It is alleged that Mr. Ippisch got the victim intoxicated and then raped her behind the concert stage curtain while hundreds of other people were dancing and drinking. Mr. Ippisch did not deny the sexual encounter, but claimed the intoxicated alleged victim consented. Despite there being several other young… Read more: Not Guilty – Alleged Serial Rapist
  • Justice Denied… Homicide by Vehicle (The story of the victim’s mother)
    Knox Whiten, of Toccoa, Georgia, was struck and killed by Virkarria Lacole Steward in March 21, 2021 in Athens. Knox was a student at UGA, but killed due to the negligent driving of Ms. Steward. In an effort to cover up her crime, Ms. Steward coordinated with her mother and step-father to set her car on fire in Jackson County in hopes that her crimes would not be uncovered. Throughout the failed efforts to prosecute the case, the District Attorney’s Office failed to timely obtain an indictment which resulted in the Court being obligated to issue Ms. Steward a bond.… Read more: Justice Denied… Homicide by Vehicle (The story of the victim’s mother)
  • DA Gonzalez violated Marsy’s Law, Again
    On November 6, 2023, the Honorable Lawton E. Stephens conducted a hearing in the case of State v. Luke Harrison Waldrop. After a daylong hearing, the Court ruled that Susan Wilson was in fact the common-law wife of James V. Jones after their relationship of 37 years. In fact, the District Attorney’s office always recognized Ms. Wilson as the “victim” representative until such time as the Marcy’s Law violation was alleged. Then, Ms. Gonzalez tried to create assert that Ms. Wilson was never entitled to notice of the plea hearing or pending trial date as she was not the “victim”… Read more: DA Gonzalez violated Marsy’s Law, Again
  • Attorney for Nigel Brown Harasses Victim and Victim’s Attorney
    In a surprising twist, the public defender appointed to represent Nigel Brown, Ms. Kaitlyn Beck, has recently filed a Motion to Compel Discovery and for a Gag Order. In the motion, Ms. Beck contends that her client would be prejudiced if not granted access to all of the communications between the victim’s attorney, Mr. Epps, and the District Attorney. Interestingly, it is alleged that any statement made by Mr. Epps on behalf the victim are “witness statements” and subject to the discovery requirements despite the reality that statements of Mr. Epps could never be used to impeach the victim’s testimony… Read more: Attorney for Nigel Brown Harasses Victim and Victim’s Attorney
  • DA Failed to File Accusation Timely
    On August 4, 2022, Carlos Alberto Mejia was arrested for a traffic accident that occurred in Oconee County on Ga. Hwy 316. Mr. Mejia was charged with (1) Driving Under the Influence, (2) Hut and Run, (3) Following Too Closely, and (4) Open Container. On July 27, 2023, a court notice was scheduled for Mr. Mejia to be arraigned on August 21, 2023. However, the arraignment had to be continued due to the failure of the District Attorney’s Office to file an appropriate accusation regarding Mr. Majia’s charges. On September 8, 2023, another court notice was scheduled for Mr. Mejia… Read more: DA Failed to File Accusation Timely
  • Charges Reduced After Man Shoots Dog
    On March 30, 2022, George Hampton Arnold, age 64, was arrested for shooting a gun at his own dog. He was subsequently indicted by a Grand Jury for three counts of Aggravated Cruelty to Animals pursuant O.C.G.A. 16-12-4. The police report suggests Mr. Arnold shot his dog in the backyard because one dog got loose and bit him on the ankle while trying to take the dogs food and water. In response, Mr. Arnold admitted to retrieving a firearm from his vehicle and shot at the dog who bit him. The intended dog was shot three times and two other… Read more: Charges Reduced After Man Shoots Dog
  • Gonzalez Responds….
    Interestingly, Deborah Gonzalez submitted a Letter to the Editor for publication in the Oconee Enterprise that was published on November 2. In letter, DA Gonzalez contends that her office has “prioritized working win collaboration with our law enforcement partners to keep residents of Clarke and Oconee counties safe, ensuring justice is served with due process and that victims of crimes are accorded certain basic rights.” It is further claimed by DA Gonzalez that a local attorney has “diverted attention” from the “notable work” of the DA’s office to focus on unfounded allegations. The court records show that DA Gonzalez has… Read more: Gonzalez Responds….
  • Justice Denied for Latino Accident Victims
    It appears the denial of justice in Athens-Clarke County applies to victims of all races. In this unfortunate situation, Esmeralda Heredia-Carias and some of her children were injured in an automobile accident caused by Jabbari Antione Stevens on Lexington Road. The vehicle driven by Jabbari Stevens crossed over several lanes of traffic in his Kia Sorento colliding with the Heredia’s vehicle. Mr. Stevens later admitted to consuming cocaine and marijuana earlier on the same date. A young child of Ms. Heredia-Carias, Gabriela, suffered a fractured pelvis, fractured vertebra, and spinal cord injury resulting in her being paralyzed from the waist… Read more: Justice Denied for Latino Accident Victims
  • DA Gonzalez violates First Amendment – Unconstitutional Viewpoint Censorship
    The district attorney’s office has an official Facebook profile that can be found at https://www.facebook.com/ConcernedAboutOurDA/. In an apparent attempt to restrict negative feedback, Ms. Gonzalez and her office intentionally blocked the Facebook profile established by the group who operates the website located at www.concerned-about-our-da.com (“Concerned Website”). It is unknown how many other individuals and groups she has blocked in an effort to manage the negative publicity concerning her office. Under the First Amendment, government officials such as the District Attorney for the Western Judicial Circuit, are prohibited from establishing a government social media page permitting public comment and then censoring unfavorable… Read more: DA Gonzalez violates First Amendment – Unconstitutional Viewpoint Censorship
  • Preliminary Injunction Denied – DA Oversight Panel
    In an effort to create some accountability and oversight for district attorneys, similar to that experienced by Judges and law enforcement officers, S.B. 92 was passed to create the Prosecuting Attorneys Oversight Commission. Under the new law, the Georgia Supreme Court is empowered to appoint investigative panels to decide whether a prosecutor has committed willful or prejudicial misconduct, should be punished for not prosecuting low-level offenses or is found to have mental or physical disabilities that impeded their ability to do their job. Although there are plenty of district attorneys and solicitors signed a letter supporting the legislation, there are… Read more: Preliminary Injunction Denied – DA Oversight Panel
  • Where is the DA’s Office?
    On September 20, 2023, a restitution hearing was scheduled in the case of State v. C. Austin. The hearing was scheduled to commence at 3:30 p.m. before the Honorable Lawton E. Stephens. The assigned Assistant District Attorney was Tab Hunter, formerly of the Athens-Clarke County District Attorney’s Office. It appears Mr. Hunt was approximately ten (10) minutes late to the hearing due to his participation in a “Zoom Call”. Mr. Hunter provided no other explanation as to why he was late. In response, Judge Stephens stated “Well, I expect you to be here on time, Mr. Hunter, and maybe you… Read more: Where is the DA’s Office?
  • State v. Michael Lareco Daniel
    Another one of the cases that suffered under the leadership of DA Gonzalez, the young victim in State v. Michael Lareco Daniel has good reason to have hope for justice. As of June 29, 2023, Randy McGinley, District Attorney for the Alcovy Circuit (Walton and Newton County) filed his Notice of Appointment as District Attorney Pro Temp and Entry of Appearance. A few days later, Mr. McGinley filed a Motion to Vacate Nolle Prosequi on July 7, 2023. The Court granted the request for DA McGinley on July 7, 2023 to reinstate the charges against Mr. Brown despite the prior… Read more: State v. Michael Lareco Daniel
  • State v. Dinesh Appuhamilage Balasooriyah
    On March 22, 2022, Mr. Balasooriyah was charged with five felony counts of possession and distribution of child pornography. After a months long investigation by UGA’s Police Department, it was determined that he has possession of videos including minors performing sex acts, a video of an exposed toddler, and a video of a juvenile masturbating. Multiple search warrants were issued during the investigation, resulting in the seizure of several electronics at an on-campus location. Law enforcement was first alerted about Mr. Balasooriyah after Facebook forwarded messages to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children showing him distributing child pornography… Read more: State v. Dinesh Appuhamilage Balasooriyah
  • State v. James Edward Johnson
    Mr. Johnson was charged with Robbery by Force related to an incident on April 18, 2022. As shown on the Indictment, Mr. Johnson was charged with pushing Mr. Robert Lockhart to the ground, putting weight on him, and driving his elbow in the back of Mr. Lockhart’s neck while stealing $40.00, cigarettes, and a lighter. Although charged with Robbery by Force, our District Attorney’s Office reduced the charge to Theft by Taking and allowed Mr. Johnson to be released with three years probation. Mr. Johnson was also charged with Aggravated Assault and False Improvement related to an incident with Jennifer… Read more: State v. James Edward Johnson
  • State v. George H. Maxwell
    Mr. Maxwell was charged with Conspiracy to Commit Felony and Criminal Solicitation related to murder-for-hire plot against ex-wife’s boyfriend. The victim, Kevin Westover, was at his residence on North Bluff Road in Athens when numerous gunshots were fired by an unknown hitman. Mr. Westover was able to escape the gunfire without injury. Although the identify of the hitman was never discovered, Mr. Maxwell was tried before a jury in November 2021 by the current District Attorney’s office. At trial, the prosecutors requested admission of various text messages between Mr. Maxwell and the unknown hitman. The senior judge handling the case… Read more: State v. George H. Maxwell
  • Dismissed for Want of Prosecution!
    On May 31, 2023, the District Attorney’s Office was noticed to appear for a peremptory calendar call for Judge Lott in Athens-Clarke County. The DA’s office had three cases scheduled for consideration: In all forfeiture cases, the State of Georgia, via the District Attorney’s Office has the burden of proving, by a preponderance of the evidence, that the property is subject to forfeiture. As the Court called the calendar, it was apparent nobody appeared on behalf of the District Attorney’s Office. Accordingly, the cases were each dismissed for want of prosecution as required by law. Interestingly enough, a request was… Read more: Dismissed for Want of Prosecution!
  • Dismissal of Animal Cruelty Charges
    Two students from the University of Georgia were charged with committing felony animal cruelty for allegedly beating it with a stick, and for inflicting severe pain on the animal. The actions of the stick caused disfigurement to the opossum’s head and eye by beating it with a stick. The District Attorney’s Office was unsuccessful in seeking justice for the abused opossum. Instead, at least one one student had the felony charges dismissed in exchange for a plea to disorderly conduct. The other student’s felony charge was also dismissed, but it remains unclear if he was required to accept any accountability.… Read more: Dismissal of Animal Cruelty Charges
  • State v. K. Downs
    Mr. Downs was charged with felony theft by shoplifting related to an incident at Wal-Mart in August 2020. After numerous failures to appear, Mr. Downs was eventually scheduled for trial. The trial occurred in Oconee County on May 17, 18, and 19. Although the District Attorney’s Office received a copy of the video surveillance from Wal-Mart loss prevention, they failed to share it with the Defendant’s attorney as required by law. As a result, the video evidence could not be produced to the jury. Even without the video, the citizens of Oconee County convicted Mr. Downs for felony shoplifting based… Read more: State v. K. Downs
  • State v. Henry Greg Thomas, Jr.
    It is alleged that Mr. Thomas shot a person in the leg on or about September 11, 2020. In that situation, Mr. Thomas was charged with Aggravated Battery, Aggravated Assault, and Possession of a Firearm by Convicted Felon. In the same case, Mr. Thomas also had a charge for simple battery related to him “spitting” in the face of a police officer. On May 18, 2023, the District Attorney’s Office submitted a Motion to Enter Nolle Prosequi to dismiss Count 1 – Aggravated Battery and Count 2 – Possession of a Firearm by Convicted Felony. In exchange, Mr. Thomas plead… Read more: State v. Henry Greg Thomas, Jr.
  • State v. Marquyse Donzell Grisson
    Mr. Grisson has a long history of domestic violence charges in Athens-Clarke County. Mr. Grisson was charged with felony Cruelty to Children in the 1st Degree and Family Violence Battery related to an incident on December 31, 2019. It was alleged that Mr. Grisson maliciously struck a minor child in the face and head with a closed fist causing excessive physical pain. The charging documents show that the actions of Mr. Grisson caused visible bodily harm with bruising and redness. On November 11, 2020, Mr. Grisson was charged with stalking and harassing communications. The allegations include Mr. Grisson repeatedly texting… Read more: State v. Marquyse Donzell Grisson
  • State v. R. Wynn
    The Defendant was charged with (1) theft by taking and (2) cargo theft. A jury trial was conducted in Athens-Clarke County beginning on March 27, 2023. The District Attorney’s Office failed to provide any evidence to the jury in support of the charge related to cargo theft. As a a result, the Defendant’s attorney moved for a directive verdict on that count which was granted by the Judge. After the trial, the jury found the Defendant Not Guilty on the theft by taking charge. This is an interesting situation as the Defendant was accused of stealing a cargo truck loaded… Read more: State v. R. Wynn
  • State v. J. Clink
    The Defendant was brought before the Court for a probation violation on March 22, 2023. He was sentenced to serve 5 years probation in April 2021 for (1) Aggravated Assault, (2) Battery, and (3) Cruelty to Children – 3rd degree. He was later arrested on May 14, 2022 for DUI in Walton County and another case in Athens-Clarke County for (1) Battery and (2) Cruelty to Children – 3rd Degree for an incident on July 23, 2022. The Defendant had been in jail for 9 months waiting for the probation issue to be resolved and it was alleged the District… Read more: State v. J. Clink
  • State v. J. E. Andrade-Bravo
    The District Attorney’s Office lost a jury trial on March 21, 2023 for a single-count case for disorderly conduct. The Defendant was initially charged with several counts, including Terrorist Threats and Battery. The District Attorney’s Office decided to move forward with the lesser-included offense of disorderly conduct. Despite the case being ripe for transfer to State Court where these types of low level domestic violence cases are handled regularly, the District Attorney’s Office kept the case despite their significant backlog. At trial, the prosecutor was unable to convince a jury that the offender had committed the most basic of offenses.
  • Numerous Cases Dismissed For Missed Deadline in Oconee County
    In Georgia, the law requires prosecutors to initiate prosecution of misdemeanor offense within two years of the crime. The deadline for felonies varies based on the severity of the charge. Our District Attorney was forced to dismiss over 10 cases because of her office’s failure to timely initiate prosecution activity. State v. Krystal S. Wilson – Theft by Shoplifting State v. Angela Celeste Fouche – Theft by Shoplifting and Deposit Account Fraud State v. Avis Banita Clay – Theft by Shoplifting (x2) State v. Dennis E. Hightower, III – DUI and Speeding State v. Dustin Delgado – DUI, Driving While… Read more: Numerous Cases Dismissed For Missed Deadline in Oconee County