SHEILA A. MATHEWS :::
Despicable – that is the description Griffin Judicial Circuit District Attorney Ben Coker ascribes to the actions of Chantell Mixon, who stood accused in the May 2014 murder of Griffin Police Department Officer Kevin Jordan and today plead guilty in Spalding County Superior Court.
Mixon on Monday appeared before Superior Court Judge Fletcher Sams and entered a plea of guilty to felony obstruction of a law enforcement officer, public drunkenness and two counts of disorderly conduct.
She was sentenced to eight years with three years to serve in prison. This sentence will run consecutively with a sentence Mixon is currently serving.
Mixon, who is being housed in the Pulaski State Prison, was previously convicted of possession of a weapon or drugs by a prisoner. She was convicted of this crime in Fayette County, where she was being held following her arrest in connection to Jordan’s murder. That crime occurred Sept. 24, 2015, and on Sept. 21, 2016, she began serving a two-year sentence for that conviction. Her maximum possible release date is Sept. 26, 2017. Upon completion of that sentence, Mixon will begin serving her three-year sentence for her involvement in Jordan’s murder.
As part of her plea agreement, Mixon will be banished from the Griffin Judicial Circuit which is comprised of Spalding, Pike, Upson and Fayette counties.
In addition to the charges for which she today plead guilty, under Scott Ballard, who formerly served as the Griffin Judicial Circuit district attorney, Mixon was also indicted on a charge of felony murder. Ballard previously announced he would not seek the death penalty against Mixon, but said if convicted of felony murder, she faced a maximum sentence of life imprisonment without the possibility of parole.
According to current District Attorney Ben Coker, the indictment Ballard obtained for felony murder could not be proven in court.
Based on a press release Coker issued, based on Georgia law and the evidence adduced at the trial of Michael Bowman, the state could not prove the required nexus for felony murder against Mixon, as Georgia law requires that the predicate felony must create a foreseeable risk of death.
Asked during a later interview if the predicate felony with which Mixon was charged – felony obstruction of a law enforcement officer – does not in and of itself produce a foreseeable risk of death.
“It does, but you’ve got to consider the circumstances – whether she saw foresaw her actions as creating a foreseeable chance of death. Her action of striking Kevin Jordan, she could not foresee that it would cause Michael Bowman to turn around and shoot Officer Jordan in the back,” Coker said. “Felony obstruction in and of itself it’s foreseeable that it could cause the death of another person, but you’ve got to look at it through the person committing the obstruction, which is Chantell Mixon. Was it foreseeable that her striking Kevin Jordan would make Michael Bowman pull out a gun and shoot him in the back, and the evidence just wasn’t there.”
Coker then explained how profoundly the Michael Bowman verdicts of guilty, but mentally ill effected the Mixon case.
“That (the guilty, but mentally ill verdict) makes it even harder for it to be foreseeable that he (Bowman) would react the way he did. You don’t know how they’re going to react,” Coker said.
The decision to move forward with this plea bargain was exceptionally difficult, Coker said.
“It’s the hardest plea I’ve ever had to take. It’s one of the hardest pleas I’ve ever had to deal with, but we couldn’t get to felony murder on her. We discussed it as a trial team and we discussed it with Judge Sams, and he agreed,” Coker said, adding that Jordan’s family was also party to the discussions. “They understood. They understood that since she didn’t pull the trigger, getting a guilty verdict on murder would be virtually impossible.”
Under Georgia law, five years imprisonment is the maximum possible sentence for felony obstruction of a law enforcement officer, but Coker said the plea was strategic to accomplish another goal.
“(The maximum) is five years to serve, but we didn’t want to give her a straight sentence because we wanted her out of the circuit, and the only way I could get her out of the circuit is with a split sentence, he said. “With a split sentence, she can be banished.”
Coker said this decision was made with a heavy heart, and he is hopeful it will give closure to Jordan’s family, law enforcement and the community.
“Unfortunately, it’s an option I had to deal with. It was my duty to take care of it,” he stated. “Like I said, it’s the hardest plea I’ve ever had to take, but based on the outcome with Bowman, we were never going to get a murder conviction on her.”