Child molestation trial starts in Muscogee County; DA prosecuting 40-year-old Jeffrey Copeland

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Defendant Jeffrey Copeland (in the weater vest) with attorneys Michael Garner (standing) and Anthony Johnson.

COLUMBUS, Ga. (WRBL) — A child molestation case started Tuesday in front of Muscogee County Superior Court judge Art Smith.

The trial of 40-year-old Jeffrey Copeland at the Civic Center began with jury selection Tuesday afternoon. The trial will move to the Government Center once a jury is selected and seated.

Copeland is accused in a 2019 incident in a Columbus motel where he is alleged to have molested a teenage boy. Keairis Hollingsworth was also charged with aggravated child molestation and sodomy.

Hollingsworth died in the Muscogee County Jail on July 7, leaving Copeland to stand trial alone.

District Attorney Mark Jones and defense attorney Michael Garner both objected to a WRBL News 3 request to have a camera in the courtroom.

Judge Smith approved the request but restricted video and limited coverage to still photos. The judge also restricted the media from identifying the victim. It is WRBL’s policy not to identify victims of sexual assault.

The trial is expected to last most of the week. It comes as the district attorney is under felony wrongdoing during his first eight months in office. He faces suspension from a commission selected by Gov. Brian Kemp.

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