A woman was sentenced to 20 years in prison without the possibility of parole for Dec. 26, 2018, assaults on two officers at the Whitfield County jail, District Attorney Bert Poston said.
Robin Harper, 33, formerly of Dallas, Texas, was convicted by a Whitfield County jury on May 22 of this year of aggravated assault upon a peace officer, unlawful acts of violence in a penal institution (two counts) and felony obstruction of a law enforcement officer (two counts). Superior Court Judge William T. Boyett presided over the trial and pronounced the sentence. Harper also pleaded guilty to unrelated charges of misdemeanor battery and obstruction of a law enforcement officer and received 12 months of concurrent time.
Harper had three prior felony convictions, all from Texas, including a prior aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, and two prior cases that involved felony assaults on detention officers. It is because of these prior felony convictions that Harper will not be eligible for parole. Harper also had prior misdemeanor convictions, including for resisting arrest, criminal trespass and misdemeanor assaults.
Harper was represented by the Public Defender's Office, which argued that Harper had prior trauma and psychiatric issues as a result. Harper did not testify at trial or present any evidence, and did not seek a verdict of not guilty by reason of insanity or guilty but mentally ill.
At the defense’s request, Harper was evaluated pre-trial by Samuel Perri of the Georgia Department of Behavior Health and Developmental Disabilities and found to be competent to stand trial, although the District Attorney’s Office was not provided a copy of that report. By law, such reports are only provided to defense counsel unless or until the defense files a notice of its intent to present a defense such as not guilty by reason of insanity or if the defense contends that the person is not competent to stand trial. Part of the evidence at trial was that Harper had made statements at the jail that she knew what she did was wrong.
The felony assaults occurred when detention officers with the Whitfield County Sheriff’s Office were escorting Harper to a padded cell. Upon approaching the cell, Harper pulled away and kicked a female officer in the stomach. She then struck a male officer before striking the female officer again, this time with her arms and with the handcuffs she was wearing. As the struggle continued, she kicked the female officer in the head after the officer fell to the ground. The officer received treatment at the Hamilton Medical Center emergency room. Harper was eventually Tased before she began to comply with officers' instructions.
The state’s case was presented by Assistant District Attorney Christina Antalis.