Georgia District Attorney: Violent criminals could soon be released because of backlog of unindicted cases


FULTON COUNTY, GA – A severe staffing shortage at the Fulton County District Attorney’s Office, in concurrence with a mounting backlog of unindicted cases facing crucial deadlines, could see inmates released on bond.

While the Fulton County DA was able to pull through on the last minute for a recent deadline to avoid accused murderers and alleged sexual offenders from seeing the possibility of bond, not every suspect for every crime was able to be tackled in time for the deadline.

In Fulton County, there was an enacted 90-day rule for indictments that, if passed, would guarantee bond for a suspect – regardless of what crimes they’re facing.

On September 28th, a crucial deadline was looming for 193 defendants accused of murder, which District Attorney Fani Willis said her office was able to ensure that those cases – as well as those accused of sexual offenses – were properly indicted and won’t benefit from this 90-day rule:

“Today I am happy to announce not one individual in Fulton County will be released charged with the crime of homicide because of a lawyer or investigator failed to work up the case and failed to get it indicted.”

DA Willis expressed how “very proud” she was that her office was able to pull through, despite two very real issues impacting her office: a staffing shortage and an increase in crime causing the case backlogs.

Earlier in September, DA Willis approached county commissioners explaining the duress her office was under due to the limited staff and growing caseload.

To put matters into perspective, there were a total of 156 murder indictments issued for the entirety of 2019 – as mentioned earlier, the DA’s office worked round-the-clock to address 193 defendants accused of murder in the past weeks.

When speaking with county commissioners, she explained that her office needed funding to address the roughly 11,000 various unindicted cases that have been stacking up:

“It’s just math. I need help. I’m here begging you for help.”

County commissioners approved $5 million for DA Willis to hire additional staff, attorneys, and investigators, which she says she already has plans to bring on an additional 75 attorneys by the end of 2021. DA Willis pointed to issues within her office as well as the rising crime as being primary contributors to the dilemma:

“[It’s] a crisis based on historical mismanagement and a crisis based on the undeniable rise in crime.”

Much of the current backlog was inherited by DA Willis when she took office this past January, saying there are literally years’ old cases that have been sitting uninvestigated when she came into office:

“It is not just Covid. To 2016, cases that are sitting in my office uncharged that has to be investigated and cases aren’t like wine – they don’t get better with time.”

In an ideal funding situation, DA Willis said that it would likely take closer to $75 million to get every single one of these cases addressed promptly.

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Georgia man sentenced to 25 years without parole for rape of elderly woman at senior living complex

(Originally published September 21st, 2021)

MCDONOUGH, GA- According to reports, a Georgia man has been sentenced to 25 years in prison after pleading guilty to charges stemming from the rape of a 75-year-old woman in her senior living center apartment. 

On September 17th, the McDonough Police Department (MPD) announced that 29-year-old Travale Farris plead guilty to rape, aggravated sexual battery, kidnapping, false imprisonment, burglary, exploitation and intimidation of an elder person, and three counts of criminal attempt to commit a felony. 

Farris cannot be granted parole during his sentence. He will be on probation for the rest of his days after the term ends and he will be required to register as a sex offender. Additionally, he must avoid contact with his victim and steer clear of Heritage at McDonough Senior Living Center in Henry County, Georgia, where the brutal attack took place.

According to authorities, the horrific attack took place in February when Farris entered the elderly woman’s unlocked unit and raped a 75-year-old woman. Video surveillance footage showed the man was walking around the senior living center and checking doors of several units to see if any were unlocked. 

Eventually, Farris was able to enter one unit where he attacked the elderly woman and then “casually walked out of the apartment.” After the sentencing, Darius Pattillo, district attorney of Henry County, told reporters:

“This was a horrific crime and we are grateful to bring justice for this survivor. We wanted to ensure that Mr. Farris cannot harm any more of our county’s elderly population. Under this sentence, there is no possibility of parole and he must serve every day of that 25 years and continue to be supervised by officers for the rest of his life.”

According to authorities, Farris was arrested after a positive DNA match in March. The match was made possible after police had previously acquired Farris’s DNA during his incarceration at Muscogee County Prison, where he was serving a term for burglary and theft. Farris was released in December 2018.

In a separate incident, a Texas man has been sentenced to life in prison for raping a blind 81-year-old woman. The horrific incident took place in 2019 in Smith County. The suspect, 61-year-old Steven Charles Hill, has been found guilty of aggravated sexual assault of an elderly person.

On September 14th, Judge Kerry Russell sentenced Hill to life in the Texas Department of Criminal Justice. Hill has been in the Smith County Jail since December 26, 2019 on a $750,000 bond. 

According to the Smith County District Attorney’s Office, the victim was living at her daughter’s house along with Hill, who was the daughter’s brother-in-law. One of the other family members at the residence, a 15-year-old girl, stated that she saw Hill lying in the bed with the 81-year-old woman in the evening.

The witness told her mother and the victim described in detail how Hill sexually assaulted her. At first, Hill denied doing anything to the victim.

However, after he was confronted about possible DNA, he changed his story and admitted he and the elderly woman had sex, but he claimed the woman wanted it and came on to him. At the time of the incident, Hill was on parole for burglary charges out of Ellis County. 

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Gov. Kemp says crime is “most significant threat” to Georgia’s future, warns it will push businesses out

(Originally published August 11th, 2021)

COLUMBUS, GA – While speaking to the Georgia Chamber of Commerce earlier in August, Governor Brian Kemp told business leaders that crime is “the most significant threat” to the future of the state of Georgia.

On August 10th, Governor Kemp addressed business leaders from Georgia, highlighting on the issues that crime presents outside of obvious direct victimization:

“Simply put, if crime is rampant on the streets of your local community, businesses will look elsewhere, workforces will leave, visitors won’t show up, and investment will stop.”

While Governor Kemp has previously highlighted concerns of crime impacting the city of Atlanta, he acknowledged during the address at the Georgia Chamber of Commerce that rising levels of crime is “also a challenge facing many of our communities across Georgia.”

The Georgia governor urged for locals and business owners to become more communicative with law enforcement and officials, so that a strategy can be devised by all interested parties on tackling crime in the state:

“Talk to your sheriff and your police chiefs, talk to your local prosecutors, and talk to schools, churches, and community organizations.”

“Work with them to put forward new job training or mental health programs that deter people from lives of crime. And work with local elected leadership to appropriately fund law enforcement.”

Governor Kemp comments regarding crime fall in line with his recent efforts to prevent it himself, having recently committed back in July to spending $2 million from his emergency fund to reinforce spending on tracking down fugitives and stopping street racing in Atlanta.

Also, back in May, Governor Kemp signed into law a bill that aims to curb defunding of police in some of Georgia’s larger cities.

When discussing the legislation back on May 7th, Governor Kemp found that Democrats in the state advocating for police defunding poses a danger to the communities in Georgia:

“This far-left movement will endanger our communities and our law enforcement officers and leave our most vulnerable at risk.”

The law limits local governments’ ability to slash police funding by margins over 5% annually. Republican Rep. Houston Gaines, who sponsored the bill, said that while “local control” by governments is inherently good, measures need to be taken to ensure they don’t become “out of control”:

“Listen, I support local control, but when you have local governments that are out of control, I knew we had to act. While we’re fortunate these proposals [to defund police] didn’t pass the first time around, we can’t let it happen.”

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