Columbus Superior Court jury convicts Meriwether County man of aggravated child molestation

Local News

This story has been edited after original publication due to omission. The original publication omitted attribution to the following sentence: Mark Jones presented little to no physical evidence and relied on the testimony of the victim. That statement was made by Defense Attorney Michael Garner during closing arguments but did not contain attribution to Garner in the original publication. That sentence has since been corrected in publication below. We apologize for the omission.

COLUMBUS, Ga. (WRBL) — A Muscogee County Superior Court jury found a Meriwether County man guilty of aggravated child molestation.

The jury deliberated for a little over an hour before convicting Jeffrey Copeland on two of the three counts he was facing.

The case boiled down to the testimony of the teenage boy who was molested by Copeland on July 18, 2019 in a Columbus motel room.

With the conviction, the 40-year-old Copeland is facing life in prison. Judge Art Smith will sentence Copeland next Thursday morning.

The jury convicted Copeland on two of the three counts against him — enticing a child for indecent purposes and aggravated child molestation. Copeland was also found not guilty of another count of aggravated child molestation. The state was alleging two acts in the same crime.

Veteran defense attorney Michael Garner called the state’s case against Copeland “the lamest case I have ever seen. If you convict him on that God help you.”

Defense attorney Michael Garner said in the closing arguments District Attorney Mark Jones presented little to no physical evidence and relied on the testimony of the victim.

And the verdict tells the DA something.

“They believed him,” Jones said after the verdict. “And I think if you had seen him testify and had the corroboration evidence from a nurse and some documentary evidence that confirmed what he was saying, he was just believable. And I asked him, as well, are you lying to us? And he said, ‘No.’”

Keairis Hollingsworth was also charged with aggravated child molestation and sodomy. But he died two months ago in the Muscogee County Jail.

Jones tried this case while he is under felony indictment for alleged criminal wrongdoing during his first eight months in office. He could be suspended by Gov. Brian Kemp as early as next week.

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