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Theft charge against Columbia County public defender dismissed

Thursday, July 3, 2014 7:59 PM
Last updated Friday, July 4, 2014 1:25 AM
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Felony theft charges against a local lawyer have been dropped after she wrote an apology letter to the victim, officials said Thursday.

Davis
Davis

Middle Judicial Circuit District Attorney Hayward Altman said he had signed off on dismissing a warrant against Alexia D. Davis in “April or May” but wasn’t certain of the exact date.

“I considered all facts of the case, and in the end I thought it was best to be dismissed,” Altman said.

Davis, an attorney for the Office of the Public Defender in Augusta, was charged with theft of lost or mislaid property in February 2013 after an investigation into the circumstances surrounding a $10,000 diamond ring found outside a Cracker Barrel restaurant near Grovetown.

Jane Prater, of Thomson, told the Columbia County Sheriff’s Office she lost the ring at the restaurant that Feb. 7. That same day, according to a sheriff’s office investigative file, a Cracker Barrel employee told supervisors that a woman had come into the restaurant to inquire whether someone had lost a ring.

The woman did not identify herself or show the ring to the employee, but “made a comment that it would be reported to the Richmond County Sheriff’s Office,” according to Columbia County sheriff’s Capt. Steve Morris.

In an attempt to identify the woman, authorities released restaurant surveillance video on Feb. 19 to local media. The same day, nearly two weeks after the ring was lost, Davis turned it over to sheriff’s deputies.

Investigators identified the woman in the video as Katrell Nash, who also is an attorney for the public defender’s office.

Nash and Davis met with sheriff’s Sgt. James Moss at the Cracker Barrel on Feb. 19. Moss reported that Davis insisted that the sheriff’s office “have the news stop running the story about the ring being stolen” because Nash was in the surveillance video.

Davis said she had found the ring in the parking lot, but both women refused to give formal statements, Moss said.

Later, when she was interviewed by sheriff’s Investigator T.R. Digsby, Nash told police that Davis had agreed she would turn the ring over to Richmond County authorities the day it was found. Nash said she thought no more of it until she saw an image of herself on television labeled “Ring Thief” on Feb. 19.

“When she saw herself on the news she became upset and called Davis, which is when she learned Davis still had the ring,” Digsby’s report said.

When Davis was interviewed by Digsby, she could not explain why she failed to turn in the ring, but “wished she had taken” steps to find the owner. She also admitted to taking the ring to Windsor Gold Buying Center on Wrightsboro Road to have it evaluated two days after she found it. She was offered $2,000 for the ring, according to the report.

While at Windsor, Davis had a conversation with a uniformed Richmond County deputy on special duty but did not mention the ring, the report said.

Based on the circumstances, Digsby decided to seek a warrant for theft of lost or mislaid property, a felony. Digsby said he thought she had intended to keep the ring and had made no effort to find the owner.

“Had she taken the simplest most obvious steps to get the ring back to the owner, it would have been successful. Instead, she did nothing,” Digsby’s report said.

After Davis’ arrest, Digsby asked her whether she was familiar with the charge against her or whether she had represented anyone charged with the same crime.

“I haven’t, I haven’t,” she told the investigator, according to the report.

Digsby later determined Davis had represented defendants in two separate cases who had been charged with theft of lost or mislaid property, most recently in 2012 in which she had negotiated a plea, the report said.

In his report, Digsby said he thought Davis should be charged with another felony, false statements and writings, based on her response to his questioning.

“I believe it is appropriate that she be indicted for this felony which she knowingly and willfully committed in an effort to avoid arrest ...” his report said.

Davis, however, was not indicted on any charge. After her arrest, the case was transferred to the Middle Judicial Circuit because Augusta District Attorney Ashley Wright recused herself to avoid a conflict of interest.

Altman said Thursday he was familiar with the facts of the case and decided on dismissal after meeting with Davis and determined she had exhibited the proper attitude about what she had done.

“She was remorseful for all the errors in judgment she had made,” he said. “She didn’t get any special treatment.”

Davis, when reached by phone Thursday, said she “would not be making any statements” on the case.

Davis did, however, make one statement, in a letter to Prater apologizing for “any anxiety and inconvenience” she had caused while in possession of the woman’s “family heirloom.”

“The good thing from all of this is that I have learned a valuable lesson about finding other people’s belongings, and so have other people,” Davis wrote. “Turning it in to the Sheriff’s Office rather than holding on to it until someone came forward would have alleviated this whole situation.”

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just an opinion
2484
Points
just an opinion 07/03/14 - 09:41 pm
16
3
Ok, it's clear now

She's a crook

Pops
7715
Points
Pops 07/03/14 - 09:56 pm
15
3
She is remorseful

for getting caught....

dichotomy
32041
Points
dichotomy 07/03/14 - 10:57 pm
13
4
Birds of a feather covering

Birds of a feather covering for each other. Anyone else would have been prosecuted.

Reckon' it's just coincidental this story hit the news on the beginning evening of a 3 day holiday weekend? DA's office taking up Obama administration habits.....airing their dirt on holiday weekends hoping the stink will dissipate by Monday morning.

Steve Crawford
94
Points
Steve Crawford 07/03/14 - 11:14 pm
11
2
Not a news release

Dichotomy, this didn't come from a press release and no one from the DA's office called us to tip us off. We were just late to get wind of it. Had to do all the reporting this afternoon.

myfather15
54180
Points
myfather15 07/04/14 - 05:14 am
16
1
Write an apology letter to

Write an apology letter to the victim? In a CLEAR theft case, and that's all the punishment?

I'm sure all of Ms. Davis' clients would LOVE to have this type of sentence!! Want to talk about special treatment; this is the perfect example; lawyers looking out for other lawyers!!

Any common joe on the streets picks up a $10,000.00 ring and makes no reasonable effort to return it to the owner; which calling LE would be; they are being prosecuted for theft of lost or mislaid property, period!!

redfish
584
Points
redfish 07/04/14 - 05:18 am
12
0
New defense strategy....

I guess it is now a legitimate and successful defense in Judge Altman's courtroom to be remorseful about stealing. Anyone who goes before the judge and is sorry for stealing will have charges dismissed.

This is some new legal ground we are seeing.

iaaffg
1988
Points
iaaffg 07/04/14 - 06:07 am
12
0
duh...as if we didn't know

duh...as if we didn't know this was going to happen. but remember! karma's a b****.

nocnoc
41129
Points
nocnoc 07/04/14 - 07:03 am
11
1
Equal justice under the law

Well they waited years for this die down and forgotten.
It is clear there are going to alot of guilty people ,
because I have to wonder if a deal for pay back will be required
by the DA on occasions now.

freeradical
1052
Points
freeradical 07/04/14 - 07:05 am
4
6
Thats Columbia County For You

That Columbia County's best & brightest for you.

billcass
761
Points
billcass 07/04/14 - 07:43 am
8
3
Not surprised

Anyone who spends any time in the criminal justice system knew that this would be the result, and would have been the result no matter who the defendant was.

Dixieman
14369
Points
Dixieman 07/04/14 - 08:01 am
10
2
It ain't over yet

I think the Georgia Bar Association will have to investigate this, and it has the power to admonish, censure, fine and even disbar attorneys who act unethically. Dismissal of criminal charges does NOT make a State Bar investigation go away. Harsher penalties may yet be imposed in this way.
I thought the AC did a very good job on this story, giving us lots of pertinent details that made the whole fairy tale collapse. My kid had better excuses when she was six! Well done, AC!
This has nothing to do with Columbia County.
BTW, I would rather be represented by Bozo the Clown than any public defender from any jurisdiction anywhere in the United States.

nocnoc
41129
Points
nocnoc 07/04/14 - 08:26 am
11
3
But WHY the delay in releasing the Dismissal made in

(APRIL/MAY) until July 3rd, just before a major holiday?

Sorry seems like Minimum Media Damage was applied.

billcass
761
Points
billcass 07/04/14 - 08:27 am
5
3
Public Defenders

Some of the best lawyers I know are PDs. They work tirelessly on behalf of their clients for very little money. Like any cross section of any profession, you will find some that are not up to snuff. If you look at 100 car mechanics, you will find a handful that are not very good. Same is true here. But by and large PDs are excellent, dedicated lawyers.

nocnoc
41129
Points
nocnoc 07/04/14 - 08:32 am
13
2
ANOTHER APOLOGY IS STILL NEEDED

I haven't forgotten the COURT HOUSE STEPS PREACHER and the RACIAL OVERTONES MADE and IMPLIED on those steps against the LEO'S and the Community.

An apology is due to the Community & the LEO's.

If for nothing else than playing the RACE CARD.

Abuse of the CARD, for now admitted VERY POOR Criminal Actions.

hoptoad
5918
Points
hoptoad 07/04/14 - 08:37 am
13
0
If she was not a member of

If she was not a member of the DA's office and just an average citizen, one could say she may have been waiting for an ad in the lost and found. But in her capacity, she should have taken positive steps to find the owner. One could say she had it appraised in order to determine whether it was costume jewelry and not worth pursuing, but once it was determined to be worth thousands and no further effort was put forth to find the owner - she's a thief!

She was only remorseful when things hit the fan.

raul
4571
Points
raul 07/04/14 - 08:38 am
5
1
@freeradical. Explain your

@freeradical. Explain your comment "That Columbia County's best & brightest for you"

Airman
3764
Points
Airman 07/04/14 - 08:50 am
11
1
Boy I would not want her for

Boy I would not want her for a PD. No telling how many cases she is going to have to trade for getting a "Get out of Jail" card. I can hear it now, well he took $200 from the till, ok lets work a deal. I will give him only 15 year with possibility of parole for a guilty plea. Yes your honor we accept your plea.

sand gnat
463
Points
sand gnat 07/04/14 - 10:26 am
9
0
Value

Why did she take the ring to Windsor Jewelers?

bclicious
676
Points
bclicious 07/04/14 - 10:57 am
7
3
FOLKS; either way. . .

Either way Folks; she is screwed! She will have a hard time in life working for any future DA's office. If I were her, I would enter into a private practice, and hope that they are more understanding.

In short; the punishment has been issued, and that $10,000 Ring has cost her a lifetime of job opportunities. That's more than any Court could have ever levied against her.

my.voice
4727
Points
my.voice 07/04/14 - 11:37 am
9
0
Bc, I get your point and it's

Bc, I get your point and it's well made, but she's a common criminal. She got off because of connections and knowledge. She should have been made an example of. She's a LAWYER for goodness sake! Higher standard required please.

pottsville
138
Points
pottsville 07/04/14 - 11:49 am
3
1
DA office

Is she still a part of the DA's office?

billcass
761
Points
billcass 07/04/14 - 12:26 pm
5
2
DAs office?

I have seen several comments about her being part of the DAs office. She is not. She is a Public Defender. Totally separate office. Let's get our facts straight.

Dixieman
14369
Points
Dixieman 07/04/14 - 08:14 pm
1
0
What billcass said

PD is on the other side of cases from the DA; they defend people, the DA prosecutes them. Thanks for clarifying this.

irishgent
15
Points
irishgent 07/04/14 - 08:57 pm
1
0
I would like to know why

I would like to know why Windsors jewelers wasnt investigated.If I offered somebody 2,000 dollars for a 10,000 dollar ring and they accepted it I could be charged with receiving stolen property. I guess its all about who you know,just saying.

TrulyWorried
13314
Points
TrulyWorried 07/04/14 - 11:27 pm
1
0
Ring

Was justice really served?

bclicious
676
Points
bclicious 07/05/14 - 10:16 am
1
0
I get it . . .

This is one of those Aristocrats vs Peasant arguments. In other words; what about us common folk down here in the gutters? Why should she be able to only ruin her name and her career? Why can't she be thrown in Jail and receive the maximum penalties?

Well, I guess she should have to. But, I tend to think that there is a lack of discretion in our current criminal justice system to begin with.

jimmymac
36955
Points
jimmymac 07/05/14 - 11:07 am
1
0
JOB
Unpublished

If she loses her job in Columbia County I'm sure the Richmond county PD office will offer her a job. As a thief she has a keen understanding of how her clients think.

corgimom
31152
Points
corgimom 07/05/14 - 07:53 pm
0
0
bclicious, compared to some

bclicious, compared to some of the stuff that I have seen other CSRA attorneys get away with, she is a saint.

corgimom
31152
Points
corgimom 07/05/14 - 07:54 pm
0
0
Nothing is going to happen to

Nothing is going to happen to her and she is still going to be a PD. It is so hard to get attorneys to be PD's, they aren't going to stop assigning her cases.

There have been stone-cold criminals in the CSRA that has gotten away with far, far worse.

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