SANDERSVILLE, Ga. — Grand jury murder indictments against three former sheriff’s deputies accused in the stun gun death of a local man have been dismissed because the prosecutor did not record the proceedings with a court reporter.
Judge H. Gibbs Flanders Jr. granted the defense motion to throw out the indictments on the grounds there was no official transcript of the grand jury testimony.
District Attorney Hayward Altman made a mistake when he told the court reporter she was not needed the day the grand jury met in closed session, the judge said.
He left the door open, however, for the prosecutor to resubmit the case to a new grand jury, with a court reporter present.
The Washington County deputies were under investigation in the July 7 death of Eurie Lee Martin, 58, of Milledgeville.
Authorities said he was walking along a rural roadway when the officers shot him with a stun gun multiple times before handcuffing him. They were responding to a report of a suspicious person.
A video of the confrontation showed Martin experiencing physical distress before becoming unresponsive. He died in the front yard of a nearby home.
Sheriff Thomas Smith fired the deputies — Henry Lee Copeland, Michael Howell and Rhett Scott — after reviewing findings in the case by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation
The district attorney submitted the case to the county grand jury Dec. 19, 2017. The deputies were indicted on murder, aggravated assault and false imprisonment charges.
Billy Hobbs is a reporter for the Milledgeville, Georgia, Union-Recorder.