Indictment: Georgia DA accused of asking a police officer to lie so charge could be upgraded to murder

Georgia News

COLUMBUS, Ga. (WRBL) – Muscogee County District Attorney Mark Jones’ legal issues did not end with Wednesday’s mistrial in a criminal property damage case.

Jones still faces serious charges of alleged misconduct while in office.

The DA is accused of nine counts of alleged criminal misconduct during his first eight months in office. The case was investigated by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation. The charges were presented to the grand jury by John Fowler, head of the Prosecution Division of the Attorney General’s Office.

Mark Jones

Jones made a motion earlier this week for a speedy trial, the same legal maneuver that he used in the Civic Center donut case that ended abruptly when Superior Court Judge Jeffrey Monroe declared the mistrial.

As those charges play out, Jones faces an almost certain suspension in the coming weeks.

Under OCGA 45-5-6, if the district attorney is indicted, the governor appoints a three-member commission within 14 days. That commission then has 14 days to report to the governor. If the commission recommends suspension, then the governor, in this case, Republican Brian Kemp, would appoint someone to fill the office.

The commission would normally consist of two Georgia-sitting district attorneys and the attorney general.

Since the indictment was presented by Republican Attorney General Chris Carr’s office, the third spot would be filled by a retired Georgia Supreme Court justice or Court of Appeals judge, according to state law.

Under Georgia law, the district attorney, as an elected official, has the right to appeal back to the governor.

When looking at the indictment handed down on Sept. 7, two counts stand out.

One count attempted subornation of perjury. And one count of influencing a witness. Both allegations appear to be connected to the same act.

Here’s what the indictment alleges Jones did:

He attempted to get Columbus Police Corporal Sherman Hayes to testify that Elijah Farral knew that his deceased victim, Sara Holtrop, was cheating on him, thereby providing motive evidence so that Farral could be charged with murder.

Elijah Farral

Farral is not currently charged with murder. He is charged with involuntary manslaughter in Holtrop’s death back in February.

That charge carries one to 10 years in prison if convicted. The punishment for a murder conviction could be life in prison without parole, even death.

Multiple sources familiar with the investigation tell News 3 that the conversation between Cpl. Hayes and Jones was captured on video. It was an after-hours conversation while Hayes was working on an off-duty security detail downtown.

WRBL reached out to Farral’s attorney, Stacey Jackson, and Jones for comment. Neither could be reached.

Chris Breault defended Jones in the Civic Center case and after Wednesday’s mistrial, he tried to draw a connection to the newest indictment.

“I would have to see the facts. And so, again, we are kind of in the dark. You know, the cops said a lot of things in this case. And I guess that’s another case they are saying something about. We have got to see what the truth is and what the evidence is.”

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