Prosecutors lost a case in a jury trial Friday in a case where an Effingham County man was charged with battery against his girlfriend and biting a police officer.
Officers with the Rincon Police Department sought warrants for Fulton Matthew Hendrix on March 8, 2023 for an incident which allegedly occurred on February 27, 2023. Warrants charged Fulton with:
Simple Battery (Family Violence – Misdemeanor) for allegedly grabbing the arm of a female, his girlfriend, and ‘placing it behind her back in an arm bar causing her to be in pain,’ and;
Obstruction of a Law Enforcement Officer (Felony) for allegedly ‘refusing multiple verbal commands to get in the back of the patrol car.’ According to the warrant, “Officers had to use the appropriate force to place Hendrix in the back of the patrol car and during the arrest, Hendrix bit Corporal Brown’s right index finger causing the skin to break and bleed.”
Two weeks later, an Effingham County Grand Jury indicted Hendrix on the same charges.
Representation & Pre-Trial Motions
Hendrix requested a jury trial and, represented by an attorney from the Ogeechee Circuit’s Office of the Public Defender, asked to be placed on the trial calendar for Judge Gates Peed.
Hendrix was initially represented by Public Defender Donna Black, wife of Chief Assistant District Attorney Barclay Black, however, Donna Black recently left the PD’s office to work for the District Attorney’s Office and the case was taken on by Quinton Wallace and Daveniya Fisher in the Public Defender’s Office.
Handling the case for the state was ADA Stuart Patray, who also worked for the Public Defender’s Office until earlier this year. Patray filed motions in July 2023 to introduce evidence from police reports which detailed alleged acts by Hendrix that reportedly occurred in May and June of 2023. Though the cases had not yet been adjudicated, Patray wanted to introduce police reports from the incidents made by the Rincon Police Department for the purposes of showing a pattern of behavior and seeking sentencing as a recidivist, if found guilty.
Among the previous convictions the state sought to introduce at trial:
- 2004 case in Chatham County where Hendrix was convicted of Statutory Rape
- 2012 case in Effingham County where Hendrix was convicted of Failing to Register as a Sex Offender
- 2014 case in Effingham County where Hendrix was convicted of Theft by Receiving Stolen Property
- 2015 case in Effingham County where Hendrix was convicted of Failing to Register as a Sex Offender
The warrants filed in March suggested a witness was present for the incident in February 2023 against Hendrix’s girlfriend, but no subpoenas for witnesses were filed by the state in the Clerk of Court’s Office – even for the Rincon Police Officers who made the arrest.
An Effingham County took less than one business day to hear the case and return a NOT GUILTY verdict on both counts.
The other cases against Hendrix are still pending.