A Muscogee County Grand Jury has returned multiple felony indictments against District Attorney-elect Mark Jones, according to indictments that came down late Monday.
Jones won the Democratic primary in June, unseating three-term incumbent Julia Slater. Jones won the two-person race with nearly 53 percent of the vote. There is no Republican challenger on the ballot today, paving the way for the Columbus attorney to assume the office in January.
The charges stem from two incidents, one was a DUI on Nov. 11, 2019 in which a woman was injured. He is facing a felony DUI charge because of alleged injuries. The second was a campaign video shot in the Civic Center parking lot weeks before the Democratic primary. He is facing a felony property damage charge.
Prosecutors in Muscogee County recused themselves from the Jones cases. They were handled by the Prosecuting Attorneys’ Council of Georgia. The special prosecutor was Donald P. Geary of Lawrenceville, according to the indictment. Geary did not immediately return a phone message left at his office Tuesday morning.
Jones’ criminal attorney, Christopher Breault, called this an election-day surprise.
“We were informed back in late September that Republican Attorney General Chris Carr was going to attempt an “election surprise” against Democratic DA-Elect Mark Jones after Jones was quoted in USA Today on September 5 saying he would prosecute the Columbus police officers who kneeled on and slowly suffocated Columbus resident Hector Arreola,” Breault said in a statement to News 3. “So, it’s not surprising that the Attorney General has worked in the dark with Julia Slater to mislead a group of unsuspecting citizens—the grand jury—into indicting DA-Elect Mark Jones. With DA-Elect Jones under indictment, the Republican leadership in Atlanta can keep him under their thumb and stop him from holding rogue police officers accountable for their actions.”
Jones can only be removed if he is convicted of a felony.
Reached Tuesday morning, Slater said neither she nor her office were involved in the arrest or indictment.
A spokesperson for the Attorney General said that office was only involved to appoint conflict counsel. “The allegations made about Attorney General Carr are categorically untrue,” said Kati Byrd, the Office’s Communications Director.
Jones was arrested for DUI on November 11, 2019. That case is pending and involved an accident with injuries. The Muscogee County State Court prosecutor has recused themselves in that case and it is being handled by the Prosecuting Attorneys’ Council of Georgia, said Muscogee County Solicitor General Suzanne Goddard.
According to information obtained under Georgia’s Open Records Act, that was Jones’ second DUI charge since 2015. He was first arrested on September 12, 2015 and charged with DUI. He refused to take three sobriety tests when requested to do so by law enforcement.
He pleaded guilty April 8, 2016 to that DUI charge. Speeding and failure to yield charges connected with the same incident were dismissed.
Under the Georgia Open Records Act, WRBL News 3 obtained the Columbus Police Department arrest video in that case. LINK. News 3 asked for the police camera video in the second DUI arrest, but that Public Records request was denied because the case was pending.
The other indictment involves a campaign rap video Jones had filmed in the Columbus Civic Center parking lot. It was aimed at getting out the vote in the election against Slater.
The video showed cars doing donuts in the Civic Center parking lot. Columbus police arrested Jones and charged him and four others with criminal property damage.
Jones retained Breault, who turned Jones into police at the Public Safety Center. The arrest was shown on a Facebook live post that went viral days before the election. Jones spent more than 24 hours in jail, then did a large campaign rally hours after being released on bond.