A district attorney in Georgia is accused of multiple crimes, including allegedly attempting to get a police officer to lie so a manslaughter suspect could be charged with murder instead, authorities claimed.
On Sept. 7, a Muscogee County grand jury indicted Chattahoochee Circuit District Attorney Mark Preston Jones on nine charges: two counts each of influencing witnesses, bribery, violation of oath by public officer, attempted violation of oath by public officer, and one count of attempted subornation of perjury.
Jones, a Democrat who took office on Jan. 1, 2021, and now faces possible suspension, was booked into the Muscogee County Jail the day of the indictment and released early the same evening.
Jones told WRBL he was “just kind of shocked” after his release. “I’ve been on the job nine months, fight really hard for the people,” he said, according to the station. “We’re trying cases and then this happens. So, I need to get a copy of the indictments, see what they’re saying — you know what they’re alleging — I haven’t seen a copy of that. I’ve only seen the list of charges.”
Jones adamantly denied the charges against him, saying, “I didn’t take any bribe, I didn’t influence any witness. I didn’t try to suborn perjury so I don’t know what they’re talking about.”
According to the indictment, Jones, who was sworn into office last January, allegedly attempted to convince a police officer in July to lie to a grand jury about a manslaughter case in order to get the charge increased to intentional murder.
Jones allegedly told the officer that “he should testify” that the suspect, Elijah Farral, 20, “believed that the deceased victim, Sarah Holtrop,” who was shot to death in February 2021, “was ‘cheating on’” Farral, “thereby providing motive evidence so that Elijah Farral could be charged with murder,” the indictment claims.
In that case, police said, Farral was with friends when he decided to scare a sleeping Holtrop with a gun. The officer ended up testifying in court that investigators believe Farral accidentally pulled the trigger and fatally shot her in the back, the Ledger-Enquirer reported.
Among other allegations, the indictment also states that in March Jones allegedly offered an assistant district attorney “$1,000 in exchange for obtaining a murder conviction,” and the same amount to a second assistant district attorney “in exchange for announcing ready on a murder trial to the Superior Court on a case that was not ready for trial.”
Jones allegedly also attempted to “knowingly use a threat and engage in misleading conduct” in an effort to stop Chris Bailey, a crime victim, from providing a victim impact statement in court, the indictment states.
“It is important for the citizens of Georgia to know that our office will not hesitate to enforce the rule of law, including when it involves the actions of a public official,” Attorney General Chris Carr said of the indictment.
In addition to the new allegations against him, Jones faces two felony charges in unrelated cases, one for an alleged 2019 DUI that involved a crash and another in connection to alleged damage totaling over $300,000 done to a parking lot at the Columbus Civic Center during a May 2020 campaign shoot, according to WRBL.