Bulloch Local News

After 1,001 Days in Bulloch Jail, Man’s Case Resolved with Misdemeanor Marijuana Plea

After 1,001 days in the Bulloch County jail, one man’s case has been resolved with credit for time served on a plea for misdemeanor possession of marijuana. 

David Manning Carter and Simon Davis Thomas were arrested by the Bulloch County Sheriff’s Office in October 2019 on felony drug charges. Two weeks later, a grand jury indicted the pair as co-defendants and parties to a crime on the same indictment containing four charges.

Carter was indicted on one count of Possession of Cocaine and one count of Possession of Marijuana (Less than 1 ounce).

Thomas was indicted on one count of Possession of Cocaine, one count of Possession of Marijuana (Less than 1 ounce), Tampering with Evidence (Felony) when he attempted to destroy marijuana ‘to obstruct the prosecution of himself and Carter,’ and one count of Speeding.

By charging both with possession of the cocaine and marijuana as ‘parties to a crime,’ the state is temporarily absolved of the responsibility of proving who actually possessed each substance.

Though the indictment attached the speeding charge to Thomas, at some point it was transferred to Carter. There is no additional indictment and no documents exist explaining the change for that charge.

Both defendants sought bond early on after their arrests, however, Chief Assistant District Attorney Barclay Black opposed bond in both cases. As a result, both defendants remained behind bars for the duration of the proceedings. 

The case was placed on the calendar in March of 2020 before the declaration of the judicial emergency and was subsequently delayed until May 2021. The case was continued four more times until July 2022 – just shy of three years from the arrest date.

On July 14, Simon Davis Thomas entered Guilty pleas for Possession of Cocaine and Tampering with Evidence. The marijuana offense against Thomas was nolle prossed, or dismissed. Thomas was sentenced to three years of confinement with credit for time served dating back to October 17, 2019. 

On the same date, the state dismissed the cocaine and speeding charges against Carter and he entered an Alford Plea on the misdemeanor marijuana possession offense. An Alford Plea is a guilty plea in which a defendant maintains their innocence but admits that the prosecution’s evidence would likely result in a guilty verdict if brought to trial. It’s often referred to as a ‘best interest’ please, in that it’s in the best interest of the defendant to simply take a plea. 

Judge Lovett Bennett sentenced him to the maximum possible sentence allowed under the law – 12 months in jail – with credit for time served dating back to October 17, 2019. 

Carter initially had a hold from Toombs County for a probation matter, but his probation was never formally revoked. Thus, Bulloch County taxpayers were on the hook for housing him for a pending matter in another county that is still unsettled. The Bulloch County Jail appropriates inmate costs at $45 per day. Beyond the twelve month sentence (through October 16, 2020), Bulloch County taxpayers were on the hook for 636 days beyond what was necessary for the sentence of Carter – or an extra $28,620. 

Thomas was represented by the Ogeechee Judicial Circuit’s Office of the Public Defender. Carter was represented by the Conflict Defender’s Office. The District Attorney’s Office is led by Daphne Totten. You can read more about her here.

Jessica Szilagyi is Publisher of The Georgia Virtue. She focuses primarily on state and local politics as well as issues in law enforcement. She has a background in Political Science with a focus in local government and has a Master of Public Administration from the University of Georgia. Jessica is a "Like It Or Not" contributor for Fox5 in Atlanta, a commentator on the 'Let Me Tell You Why You're Wrong Podcast,' and she has two blogs of her own: The Perspicacious Conservative and "Hair Blowers to Lawn Mowers." Sign up for her weekly newsletter: http://eepurl.com/gzYAZT

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