The Griffin Judicial Circuit District Attorney's Office officially welcomed our newest Investigator to the agency in a swearing-in ceremony today. Superior Court Judge W. Fletcher Sams administered the oath to Investigator Andrew Lerner.
Investigator Lerner is assigned to the Fayette County District Attorney Office. Welcome to our team!
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
On Friday, a Spalding County jury convicted Brian Marshall Brinkerhoff, a 42 year old man from Griffin, GA of multiple counts of abuse against children. The defendant was arrested in April of 2020 after allegations surfaced that he was touching the victim inappropriately. During the investigation, it was discovered that the defendant was grooming the victim over a substantial period of time, “teaching” the victim how engage in multiple sex acts. The details of the abuse are so horrific that it is impossible to relay them in a press release. The Spalding County Sheriff’s Office investigated the case. Senior Assistant District Attorney Kathryn Lenhard and Assistant District Attorney Holly MacDonald presented the case for the State.
Unknown to the Spalding County Sheriff’s Office, the Georgia Bureau of Investigation Child Exploitation and Computer Crimes division was running a simultaneous investigation into crimes committed by the defendant. From 2017 through 2019, the defendant posed as a 16-year-old on Facebook where he trolled for teenage girls online. He engaged in explicit sex talk with young teens, and then, despite being told the girls were under 16 years of age, would befriend, groom, and bully the girls to send nude pictures to him over Facebook Messenger.
A Spalding County jury found the defendant guilty of Aggravated Child Molestation, three counts of Aggravated Sexual Battery, Incest, and five counts of Obscene Internet Contact with a Child. The Honorable Scott Ballard sentenced the defendant to Life in Prison followed by 30 years to serve.
ADA Lenhard said, “[t]his case is built of the nightmares of parents across the country. Unsuspecting teenagers played right into his hands as he manipulated them into taking their clothes off and sending images that will exist online forever. Meanwhile, the defendant played out his basest fantasies in real life on a victim within his own home; a girl who had nowhere else to turn.”
District Attorney Marie Broder agreed and said, “the crimes committed by this man were, simply put, horrific. I’m so proud of the jury, law enforcement, and my team for working so hard to make sure this defendant was held accountable for his crimes. People who commit these crimes do so in the dark. We are committed to exposing these evildoers and standing up for the most vulnerable in this Circuit.”
On Thursday, August 25th, after a four day trial, a Fayette County jury convicted Jermaine Alfonso Harmon, a 49-year-old man from Fayetteville, GA of Felony Murder, Aggravated Assault, and Possession of a Firearm During the Commission of a Felony. The Honorable W. Fletcher Sams sentenced the defendant to Life in prison plus 5 years. Deputy Chief Assistant District Attorney Warren Sellers and Senior Assistant District Attorney Dan Hiatt tried the case for the State. The case was investigated by the Fayette County Sheriff’s Office.
The evidence at trial showed that the victim Joshua Kellam returned his 10-year-old daughter to the home of the child’s mother and the Defendant after a month long summer visit on July 31, 2020. The next day, August 1, 2020, the victim realized he had left his travel bag containing important legal and personal documents in his daughter’s suitcase and kept her book bag by mistake. Mr. Kellam tried through text messages, calls, and visits to the residence alone and accompanied by law enforcement to retrieve the bag. Although, the Defendant knew Mr. Kellam sought the return of the file he refused to respond. Finally, he came back one last time that evening with the child’s book bag in one hand and his cell phone in the other. When Mr. Kellam knocked on the door, the Defendant exited the home with a .40 caliber Glock pistol, punched Mr. Kellam in the face and shot him through the heart causing his death.
The Defendant testified at trial, claimed self-defense, and asserted that he shot the victim after the victim had him in a headlock. The jury rejected this defense with its verdict.
The victim’s wife and sister attended the trial and spoke at the sentencing hearing.
“All of us involved in the trial were just deeply saddened by such a senseless killing of such a loving husband, father, and brother.” Sellers said of the verdict. “We are thankful that justice prevailed, and Mr. Harmon was held accountable.”
District Attorney Broder stated, “this verdict is a statement by the jury that you cannot take the life of another human being and then attempt to use self-defense to get away with the crime. Joshua Kellam was so loved, and his murder impacted so many people. I hope and pray this verdict and sentence can allow his family to have some sense of justice.”
Governor Brian Kemp has appointed District Attorney Marie Broder to serve on the Georgia Criminal Data Exchange Board. Today D.A. Broder was sworn in by Governor Kemp in his office. Also appointed to the Board were Columbia County Superior Court Judge J. Wade Padgett, Fulton County Sheriff Patrick Lebat, and Forsyth County Clerk of Court Greg Allen. Congratulations to our District Attorney and all board members on their appointment!
This week Griffin Judicial Circuit District Attorney employees Stephanie Crimley, Samantha Smith and T.J. Gochenour attended the 2022 GBI GCIC Training Symposium held in Savannah. The annual training is for criminal justice professionals on the use of criminal justice information.
Students at St. George's Episcopal School enjoyed a presentation from District Attorney Broder at their Career Day today. The students learned about the role of the District Attorney and the court system.
Today Chief Assistant District Attorney David Studdard gave a presentation at Career Day to Whitewater High School teacher Scott Schmitt's Law Class. Chief ADA Studdard enjoyed talking with this great group of students who are interested in pursuing a career in Public Safety/Law about the court system and the Office of the District Attorney.
What an awesome day it has been! District Attorney Broder served at Griffin-Spalding County School System "DAY ONE in the District" at Cowan Road Middle School in Griffin this morning welcoming and cheering on the arriving students as they begin their 2022-23 school year. Community leaders were at all the Spalding County Schools today, opening car doors, greeting bus riders and escorting the children into the schools. Pictured with the District Attorney are Spalding County Manager Dr. Steve Ledbetter and Cowan Road Middle School Resource Officer Smith.
It was such an honor to provide Ms. Bergland, a teacher at Cowan Road Middle School in Griffin, with school supplies for her classroom this year. She is a wonderful teacher and so deserving! Please remember teachers as they embark on this next school year. They do so much for the children and pay for so much out of their own pockets. Our appreciation and thanks goes out to all of you!