While in court for one criminal matter, DA Mark Jones demands speedy trial in GBI case alledging misconduct in office

Crime

COLUMBUS, Ga. (WRBL) – Embattled Muscogee County District Attorney Mark Jones may be involved as a defendant in one criminal trial, but he’s also looking to a more serious case that was brought against him by the Georgia Attorney General’s office last week.

Jones filed a one-page motion with the Clerk of Superior Court’s office demanding a speedy trial in the other criminal matter. A nine-count indictment was handed down against Jones on Sept. 7 by a Muscogee County Grand Jury. It alleges misconduct while in office that includes bribery and asking a prosecutor and police officer to lie.

Jones filed the motion pro se, which means he was acting as his own attorney. His attorney Chris Breault told News 3 he was not representing Jones in the nine-count indictment. All of the Muscogee County Superior Court judges have filed a motion recusing themselves from the case because of a conflict of interest. No judge has been assigned the case yet.

The speedy trial motion could cause the case to be tried before the end of the year.

Attorney General Chris Carr’s office, when contacted by News 3, declined comment on Jones’ motion.

Last week’s charges and the current trial are separate legal matters. Jones was indicted in November 2020 on criminal property damage to the Columbus Civic Center parking lot. The city has alleged the parking lot was damaged when drivers did “donuts” in the parking lot during the taping of a campaign rap video.

The trial moved into its second day on Tuesday. Superior Court Judge Jeffrey Monroe. And Monroe spent much of the morning scolding attorneys.

Prosecutor Brian Patterson and Jones’ defense attorney Chris Breault both drew Monroe’s ire

Judge Monroe is a visiting judge from Macon and he has spent much of the morning making sure that the attorneys toe the line.

He admonished Patterson for not having the technology ready – as he was instructed to do on Monday. Judge Monroe also expressed his displeasure that Breault was one minute late for the 8:30 start.

During questioning of GBI Special Agent Tori McNeese, Breault went to the prosecutor’s table to look for a photo.

That did not sit well with Monroe. He called it a “fishing expedition.”

“Mr. Breault if you are confused, it is a confusion of your own making. Listen to what she is saying,” the judge said.

At one point, Breault interrupted the judge, which prompted a quick response.

“Mr.Breault, Mr. Breault there will be only one of us that will speak at no Mr. Breault there will be only one of us that speak at a time, and while I speak no one else speaks,” Monroe said.

Just before breaking for lunch, Monroe admonished Breault for asking questions again and again after the judge had told him not to.

The first witness was McNeese was the state’s first witness. 

Prosecutor Brian Patterson asked the GBI special agent, who began investigating in November 2020 before it was presented to the Grand Jury, if there had ever been any political pressure put on her. 

“No, sir,” she responded. 

The GBI originally was called into the case in May, not long after the video was done. 

Patterson was also asked if she had spoken to Attorney General Chris Carr about the case. She, again, responded, “No.” 

Whittington’s defense attorney William Kendrick asked about the investigation into the alleged property damage. 

“The case was made by the Columbus Police Department, not by the GBI,” McNeese said. “We were asked by the Attorney’s General’s Office to review the case.” 

The difference in the way Breault and Patterson are approaching this can be seen in two lines of questioning. 

Breault asked McNeese if she had ever worked a “tire mark” case before? She said, no. 

Patterson asked her she had ever worked on a case involving a candidate for DA filming an unauthorized campaign video. She testified this was the first time. 

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