Day 2 suspended DA Mark Jones’ public corruption trial

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5:50 p.m. Judge Lumsden dismissed the jury about 5 p.m., it was after state’s witness Chris Bailey spent more than an hour on the stand. The prosecution played a 30 minute audio-tape of a conversation between Bailey and Jones. Bailey’s uncle was killed and Jones’ office is prosecuting that murder.

Bailey, the spokesperson for his family, was not pleased with the way the case was going after the man charged in the death was released on bond. During the conversation with Jones, the DA was urging Bailey to drop complaints against his office.

The trial is set to resume at 8:30 a.m. Wednesday Nov. 10.

2:50 p.m. Assistant District Attorney Kimberly Schwartz described an encounter she had with suspended District Attorney Mark Jones in March shortly after she was rehired.

Schwartz was asked by Jones if she could be ready to try a murder case a week after she was rehired.

“‘I really wish you could have a murder case ready next week? And I said I do to,'” Schwartz said.

Jones then said she was told by Jones he would pay her $1,000 out of his pocket if she could get one ready.

“…. I was shocked by this suggestion,” she said. “Which I thought was a total violation of our oath.”

On cross-examination, Jones’ attorney Katonga Wright tried to discredit Schwartz. She asked if the reason Schwartz returned from the Macon Circuit, where she went late last year, was she was terminated.

Deputy Attorney General John Fowler objected but before Judge Lumsden could rule, Schwartz said she had not been fired.  

1:30 p.m. The Mark Jones public corruption trial has resumed after a lunch break.

The state has begun to present its case. Two law enforcement officers were called prior to the break.

The first witness of the afternoon is Kimbrely Schwatrz, an assistant district attorney in the Chattahoochee Judicial Circiut.

Schwartz was named in the nine-count indictment against Jones. It is alleged that Jones, who was her boss, offered her money to claim she was ready to try a murder trial that she said she was not ready to try.

She is a career prosecutor, who has been doing the job for more than 35 years.

Deputy Attorney General John Fowler is going into great detail to question Schwartz about the role of a prosecutor.

Fowler asked if it was OK to overcharge someone with a crime in an effort to plea it down to a lesser offense.

“Absolutely not,” she responded.

12:15 p.m. After hearing opening statements in the Mark Jones public corruption trial, the jury was dismissed for lunch around noon. It is scheduled to resume at 1:15 p.m.

In his opening, Deputy Attorney General John Fowler made it clear to the jury that the state’s case was about Jones’ abuse of power in murder cases and little else.

“The job is to prosecute meth to murder. Probation to the death penalty,” Fowler said. “You have a duty to justice and must do what’s right.”

Katonga Wright, representing Jones, urged the jury not to rush to judgment as she painted Jones as a victim and not someone who was abusing power.

“Don’t make a decision until you have all the facts,” she said.

9:45 a.m. COLUMBUS, Ga. (WRBL) — The tone for the public corruption trial of suspended Muscogee County District Attorney Mark Jones before the jury has even entered the courtroom.

Houston County Superior Court Judge Katherine Lumsden during motion hearings outside the presence of the nine-woman, five-man jury that will decide if Jones committed a felony while in office. He faces a nine-count indictment that alleges, among other charges, that Jones asked a Columbus Police officer to lie under oath to upgrade an involuntary manslaughter charge against a 20-year-old Elijah Farral to murder.

Lumsden ruled that media outlets can live-stream the trial.

Another issue was Jones’ late filing of a 200-person witness list. He missed Lumsden’s deadline for filing the list. Deputy Attorney General argued the list was incomplete.

“Mr. Jones, you are a professional,” Lumsden said. “This is your business. You have to play by the rules.”

Later Jones wanted to argue with the judge. Lumsden pointed out he was the defendant and was represented by counsel. Katonga Wright of The Wright Legal Group was hired by Jones over the weekend to represent him after his attorney Chirs Brault was dismissed by Lumsden. Breault is expected to be a witness in the case.

The judge told Jones to sit down and let his attorney argue.

“You are not the lawyer,” Lumsden said.

The judge then boiled down the case as she sees it.

“I know everybody wants to make it about whether Mr. Jones is a good district attorney or bad district attorney,” Lumsden said. “That is not what this case will decided on. It is about if on this occasion or that occasion did you do something that violates the law.”

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