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SANDERSVILLE, Ga. (AP) — A new prosecutor has been assigned to consider retrying three former Georgia sheriff’s deputies accused of killing a man walking down a rural road when they shocked him with stun guns during a 2017 arrest.

Local news outlets report that Columbus-based District Attorney Stacey Jackson was assigned to the case after the district attorney where the death occurred stepped aside.

A judge declared mistrials in October 2021 after Washington County jurors deadlocked in deliberations over the guilt of Henry Lee Copeland, Michael Howell and Rhett Scott.

The three were accused of murder, involuntary manslaughter, false imprisonment, aggravated assault, simple assault and reckless conduct in the July 2017 death of 58-year-old Eurie Martin.

Martin’s family and friends have been lobbying for another trial

“It’s been agonizing. Just waiting and seeing who is going to take this case. Is it going to be tried, right? We want a fair trial, and we want the murderers behind bars,” Barbara Evans, Martin’s sister, told WMAZ-TV.

Deputies tried to arrest Martin, who had a history of schizophrenia, after a resident of the hamlet of Deepstep called 911 to report him as suspicious after he approached the person and asked for a drink of water. Martin was walking 30 miles (50 kilometers) on a hot day to see his relatives for his birthday.

Martin was Black, while all three of the now-fired deputies are white.

Prosecutors argued Copeland, Howell and Scott had no reason to detain Martin. They pointed to video evidence they said showed the deputies were unreasonably aggressive, as well as testimony from some witnesses. The deputies shocked him with stun guns repeatedly for up to 90 seconds, handcuffed Martin and minutes later found that he had no pulse, video showed.

Defense attorneys, though, said Martin had illegally walked in the road, littered when he dropped a soft drink can, and took an aggressive stance and obstructed an officer when he didn’t obey the commands of the deputies. They also argued that the stun gun didn’t cause Martin’s death, which meant officers were not assaulting him with a deadly weapon, a key underlying element of one of the murder charges.

District Attorney Tripp Fitzner recused himself after the mistrial, claiming a conflict, and asked for another prosecutor to be named.

Pete Skandalakis, executive director of the Prosecuting Attorney’s Council, said Jackson’s office is equipped to take on this type of case.

“This case does have some notoriety to it. It does have some serious implications. You want to give it to someone who has the experience … and can handle this case,” Skandalakis said.

Jackson will decide whether to retry the men or not. He could also seek new charges. For now, he hasn’t made a decision.

“I haven’t received the file yet,” Jackson told the Ledger-Enquirer of Columbus. “I got the order last week.”

For now, the former deputies remain under indictment and are free on bail.

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Advice | Ask Amy: My husbands family will be upset by his after-death request

Dear Amy: My husband recently passed away, and I am adhering to his wishes by not having a funeral service. I am fine with that, but apparently his family isn’t.

His family has asked what my plans are. I wasn’t there when they raised the subject with my adult son. He told them we are planning something later.

I wish he had been more direct. I plan on having a celebration of life sometime this fall. It’s going to be an informal one, and I expect it to be well-attended. His family will probably not be happy with this, but it will keep the cost down.

I know the subject will come up again, so I will have to be firm in stating that this is my husband’s wish.

I feel bad for his family because I don’t think they are getting the closure they desire. I’m not sure how to handle this except to tell them that I am abiding by my husband’s wishes.

 Grieving Wife

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Dear Grieving: Providing the preferred method of closure for your late husband’s family is not your responsibility. Honoring his wishes and taking care of yourself is your responsibility.

Plan your celebration, let all of your in-laws know, answer any questions they have, and move forward.

Dear Amy: How do I tell my best friend that I don’t like going anywhere with her if she insists on driving?

She and I were best friends throughout childhood. After high school we went our separate ways, but stayed in touch over the years. I retired last year at age 65 and moved back to my hometown area, where she also lives.

I quickly found out that her driving makes me a nervous wreck. She can’t seem to hold the steering wheel steady, and is constantly swaying the car from side to side, just enough to jostle us around.

Also, while in traffic not ideal for using cruise control, she does use it, constantly speeding up and slowing down as she tries to maintain her speed.

I’m so annoyed when we reach our destination, I’m a nervous wreck!

I have tried politely asking her to let me drive, and she gets upset.

I don’t want our friendship to be affected because of this, but I am at my wits end and feel that if I tell her the truth, it would hurt her feelings.

Help!

Scared

Dear Scared: Around 45 million Americans are senior drivers — and this number is rising — as boomers become seniors and seniors become elders, and most want to continue driving.

I bring this up because there is some likelihood that other drivers you are encountering on the road when you’re with your friend are also older and perhaps have diminished reaction times to her swerving and unexpected braking.

Or they’re younger, aggressive and reckless themselves.

If you or she are physically on the frail side, even a minor fender-bender where the airbag deploys could be dangerous.

You could tell her, “I’m a nervous wreck when I ride with you. I’m happy to drive when we go out, but if you don’t want to let me drive, I’ll meet you at our destination.”

Framing the issue in this way lets both of you know that your feelings are just as important as hers.

Dear Amy: In a recent answer to “Loving, but Sad Daughter,” you wrote: “[Your father’s] Wikipedia entry should be revised. You could edit it yourself …”

That’s not quite right. Wikipedia tries to discourage people from editing articles about their close relatives, for the hopefully obvious reason that it’s hard to be objective and neutral while writing about your father, for example.

The rules on that can be complex; basically she would need to make an edit request on the Wikipedia article talk page and wait for an uninvolved volunteer editor to do the actual work.

People need to share a reliable source, like a newspaper or magazine article that confirms the information.

I’m a Wikipedia volunteer with 16 years experience, and like to help people when I can.

Volunteer

Dear Volunteer: “Loving, but Sad Daughter” was concerned because after her father’s death, she saw that both his obituary and his Wikipedia entry left out her mother’s existence — leaving the false impression that she was the daughter of her father’s second wife.

I’ve heard from several volunteer editors from Wikipedia, noting the necessity of correctly sourcing all information. This sourcing prevents articles from being biased and helps to keep Wikipedia entries correct.

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You can email Amy Dickinson at [email protected] or send a letter to Ask Amy, P.O. Box 194, Freeville, NY 13068. You can also follow her on Twitter @askingamy or Facebook.

 

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