Yesterday, a Spalding County jury convicted Lajayvayon Malek Johnson of Home Invasion, Aggravated Assault, Possession of a Firearm During Commission of a Felony, Possession of a Handgun by a Person under the age of 18, Possession of Marijuana with Intent to Distribute, Criminal Trespass, and Theft by Receiving a Stolen Firearm. The Honorable Scott Ballard sentenced Johnson to Life with the first 30 years to serve in prison. He will be banished from the Griffin Judicial Circuit upon his release from prison. Assistant District Attorneys Morgan Kendrick and Ashton Fallin prosecuted the case for the State.
Johnson was convicted of breaking a window and entering a home, with two other individuals. The three wore masks and were armed with a handgun. A child of the homeowner was present and hid in a locked bathroom from the gunmen. The defendant along with one of the co-defendants, Dyquavious Deshun Zellner, kicked in the bathroom door and pointed the handgun at the victim. They then took a watch and an IPhone and fled the residence. Police responded immediately and caught the defendant fleeing from the residence. The victim, along with members of the Griffin Police Department, testified at trial. One of these co-defendants has entered a guilty plea. Zellner’s case will be tried at a later date.
District Coker said of the result, “[t]hank you to the brave victim for her testimony, and to the members of the Griffin Police Department who responded quickly to the scene and thoroughly investigated this case. Each member of my Circuit should feel that his or her home is his or her sanctuary. For this reason, my offices have aggressively prosecuted home invaders and armed robbers since I took office. Together, with law enforcement, we will continue to doggedly pursue those that threaten your homes. Thank you to Morgan, Ashton, and my entire Spalding office for fighting the fight this week.”
This week, District Attorney Ben Coker tried the State vs. Adesoji Akinrinsola Olayisade. Yesterday, a Fayette County jury convicted Olayisade, a 20 year old man from Snellville, of 6 counts of Identity Fraud and 2 counts of Theft by Taking. The Honorable Scott L. Ballard sentenced Olayisade to 20 years with the first 15 years to be spent in prison. The jury convicted the defendant of using identifying information of Fayette County citizens to open bank accounts in their names. The defendant would steal this information from mailboxes. The Fayette County Sheriff’s Office investigated the case.
District Attorney Coker said of the verdict, “Identity Fraud is becoming more common in Fayette County. This defendant came into our county with the intent to defraud and victimize citizens here. This sentence should be a message to those like this defendant. You will not get away with crimes like this in Fayette County. Thank you to law enforcement, the witnesses, and the jurors for their roles in achieving this verdict.”
Yesterday, an Upson County Jury returned a verdict of guilty in the State vs. Marcus Slaton. Slaton was convicted of Aggravated Sexual Battery. The Honorable W. Fletcher Sams sentenced the defendant to Life in prison. The case was tried by Assistant District Attorney Mark Irvin and Chief Assistant District Attorney Marie Broder. Slaton was convicted of molesting an 8 year old child.
District Attorney Coker said of the verdict, “I would like to thank my Upson office, law enforcement, and the Crescent House for their testimony. I would also like to thank the jurors for believing this little girl. Yesterday, this child received justice. Together, we will continue to work diligently to keep the children of Upson County safe from those that seek to do them harm.”
Joseph Phillip Kuprian was convicted by a Spalding County jury on Friday, November 2nd, 2018 of two counts of Aggravated Child Molestation, Incest, and five counts of Child Molestation. Assistant District Attorneys Donna Gopaul and Kathryn Lenhard represented the State of Georgia during the week-long trial. Kuprian was convicted of sexually abusing his step-daughter. The Honorable Christopher C. Edwards presided over the case. Judge Edwards set the sentencing hearing for December 10th. Kuprian faces two life sentences plus 130 years in prison.
District Attorney Coker said of the verdict, “I am extremely proud of my office for the fight that they put up in court this week. Donna and Kate, along with Investigator Stan Phillips and Victim-Advocate Cassie Murrell, worked tirelessly to prepare this case. These cases are challenging for everyone involved. They require the victims to stand up bravely in the face of the monsters that molest them. I’m so thankful for their bravery. Thank you, also, to law enforcement and to the Spalding County jurors. You believed the voice of a child. For that, we are grateful.”
Assistant District Attorney Daniel Hiatt, with the Fayette County District Attorney’s Office, tried the State of Georgia vs. Jovani Valle Delgado to verdict. A Fayette County jury convicted Delgado of Trafficking Methamphetamine. The Honorable Christopher C. Edwards sentenced the defendant to 30 years with the first 15 years to be spent in prison. Delgado was convicted of selling 110 grams of methamphetamine to an undercover officer with a Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) task force. Delgado sold the trafficking amount of methamphetamine in front of a mobile home in north Fayette County.
After Delgado sold the methamphetamine, the DEA continued to investigate the location at which the undercover sale took place. At the conclusion of this investigation, on November 14, 2017, agents executed a search warrant at a mobile home in the park where Edgar Cabera-Gonzales and, his associate, Juan Pablo Romero were located. In this home, was 18 kilograms of methamphetamine. On October 22, 2018 Cabera-Gonzales pled guilty to possessing the 18 kilograms of methamphetamine. He was sentenced to 25 years to serve in prison. Romero pled guilty to Possession of Methamphetamine with Intent to Distribute. He will serve 10 years in prison. Special Agent in Charge, Chase Hallman, with the DEA, was the lead officer on the cases.
“The presence of drug traffickers and dealers such as these will not be tolerated in Fayette County.” District Attorney Ben Coker said. “We will continue to use local and state resources to fight against those that intend on putting methamphetamine and other drugs into our community. Thank you to law enforcement and my office for a job very well done."
On October 23, I was honored to speak at the Domestic Violence Awareness Vigil held at the 6th Street Park in Griffin. Promise Place is an exceptional resource for our Circuit, and we are blessed to have them. Domestic Violence is a serious problem in our communities. If you or someone you love is trapped in a domestic violence situation, please, contact Promise Place or law enforcement. Help is out there. Together, we can stop crimes of Domestic Violence. -- Ben Coker, District Attorney
Assistant District Attorneys David Studdard and Christy Jindra, with the Fayette County District Attorney’s Office, tried the State of Georgia vs. Alvin Treon Crouch in front of a jury in the month of October. Crouch was originally charged with Aggravated Battery, Aggravated Assault, Possession of a Firearm During the Commission of a Felony, and Reckless Conduct. The jury convicted Crouch of Aggravated Assault and acquitted on the other charges. The Honorable Scott Ballard sentenced Crouch to 20 years with the first 15 years to be served in prison.
Crouch, a 28 year old Fayetteville man, was convicted of shooting into a car occupied by the 60 year old victim, hitting her in the leg. Investigator Karl Duggan, with the Fayette County Sheriff’s Office, was the lead investigator on the case. The victim testified, along with members of both law enforcement and the Georgia Bureau of Investigation. The trial lasted eight days.
Assistant District Attorney Studdard said of the verdict, “the jury’s verdict reaffirms our commitment to the safety and security of the citizens of Fayette County. It sends a message that this type of lawlessness will not be tolerated.” District Attorney Benjamin Coker added, “this case was hard fought on both sides. I am proud of my office and law enforcement for the hard work that they put into this case. I would also like to thank the jury for their verdict.”
District Attorney Coker enjoyed cooking for the Thomaston Upson Chamber of Commerce Dine and Dash. Thanks to Sheriff Kilgore for allowing him to help. It was a great turnout.
Thank you to the Spalding County Board of Commissioners for declaring October "Domestic Violence Awareness Month." Chief Assistant District Attorney Marie Broder and Assistant District Attorney Ashton Fallin were on hand at the Commissioners' meeting with Promise Place to accept the Proclamation.
Promise Place is an exceptional organization that works diligently to reduce domestic violence crimes across this Circuit. Thank you to Vanessa Wilkins, and the entire organization, for raising awareness about domestic violence. Domestic Violence is a serious problem in this Circuit. If you or someone you love is the victim of domestic violence, contact Promise Place or law enforcement. You are not alone.
Thank you to the Spalding County Sheriff’s Office for inviting us to participate in this year’s Day of Remembrance for Murder Victims. It was a beautiful ceremony. To those loved ones who live with the devastating loss of the victims every day, please know that you and these victims have a forever place in our hearts. May they never be forgotten.