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 down.a handicap ramp at their home.
For reasons unknown, DA Gonzalez has failed to move forward with the prosecution against Mr. Stevens for several years. In January 2022, the case was finally presented to the Grand Jury which returned a 13 count indictment with several charges of Serious Injury by Vehicle, Driving Under the Influence, and Failure to Maintain Lane. The defendant’s attorney with the public defenders office then filed a Plea in Bar complaining that several of the counts were misdemeanors and prosecution was commenced more than two years after the alleged offense in violation of the statute of limitations.
On April 20, 2022, the Court considered the Plea in Bar. Based on the failure of the District Attorney’s office to timely prosecute the misdemeanors, the judge was required to dismiss counts 11, 12, and 13. A few days later, the public defenders office then filed a Motion to Suppress claiming the drug test blood test was improper. At the hearing on the Motion to Suppress, the District Attorney’s office failed again. The attorney for the state failed to introduce the signed consent form allowing the blood test, failed to adequately question the arresting officer, and failed to subpoena nursing staff regarding the conduct and consent of the defendant. As a result, the Motion to Suppress was granted and now the the District Attorney’s Office is prohibited from using the drug test results at trial.
For reasons unknown, the District Attorney’s Office then decided to present the case to the Grand Jury again on January 31, 2023. In doing so, the case based on the original indictment from 2022 was dismissed. A 5 count indictment was returned for separate counts of serious injury by vehicle for five different victims.
On April 18, 2023, the public defenders office filed a Motion to Dismiss and Plea in Bar against Count Two because the District Attorney’s Office substantially modified the allegations for the charge involving Ms. Heredia-Carias resulting in a violation of the Statute of Limitations. If they had kept the allegations to the same ones included in the 2022 indictment, there would not have been a problem. Instead, the actions by the District Attorney’s Office resulted in the Court having to dismiss Count Two. A hearing was held on September 18, 2023.
At the hearing, the Court was also scheduled to consider a Motion to Suppress various comments made by Mr. Stevens during the original investigation. At the hearing, the attorney for the District Attorney’s Office tried to ask for a continuance because his witness was not there. When asked if subpoenas were served on the witnesses, the attorney stated he did not know who the witnesses were. He later suggested he thought it was a trooper who was out on medical leave. With the consent of the attorney for the defendant, the Court continued the hearing on the Motion to Suppress.
It is unknown what type of communication the District Attorney’s Office has had with the victims in this case, but it is obvious that justice is not being served. There is no doubt Mr. Jabbari Antione Stevens committed a serious crime causing an unimaginable amount of trauma and difficulty for this young family. Instead of being a zealous advocate to serve the public interest and prosecute Mr. Stevens for his unlawful conduct, DA Gonzalez and her office have been repeatedly taken to task by the public defenders office for not following proper procedure. The incompetence demonstrated in this case by the attorneys at the Athens-Clarke County District Attorney’s Office is difficult to understand.
Where is the justice for this family?