COLUMBUS, Ga. (AP) — A Georgia district attorney is scheduled for trial in September on felony charges related to a campaign video he recorded in a government building parking lot.
Mark Jones, the district attorney in the six-county Chattahoochee circuit, is charged with first-degree criminal damage and interfering with government property. So are four other people who police say gathered in the parking lot of the Columbus Civic Center in May 2020 to record stunt driving moves such as donuts with smoking tires.
Local news outlets report Jones and the other four are scheduled for trial on Sept. 13.
The circuit is centered in Columbus, including Muscogee, Harris, Chattahoochee, Marion, Talbot, and Taylor counties.
The trial will be held in Columbus, but an out-of-town judge and prosecutor have been appointed in the case.
Jones defeated incumbent District Attorney Julia Slater in the 2020 Democratic primary and won the general election with no Republican opposition.
Jones also faces separate felony charges of two counts of driving under the influence and one count of reckless driving following a November 2019 vehicle crash.
Columbus police charged Jones and four other men following complaints by the mayor of the consolidated city-county and others.
The Ledger-Enquirer reports Christopher Breault, Jones' lawyer in the parking lot case, has filed motions to dismiss charges. Breault argues Slater improperly influenced the grand jurors who indicted Jones by presenting unrelated cases before the out-of-town prosecutor presented evidence against Jones.
Breault also accuses city officials of selective enforcement, noting they haven't charged anyone else for damaging the civic center's sprawling parking lot even though tire marks show many other people have pulled similar stunts.
He claimed Jones was prosecuted “because the ‘Good-ole boy network’ in Columbus, GA could not stomach the fact that Mark Jones -- of all people -- would become the district attorney of the Chattahoochee Judicial Circuit -- an ‘unthinkable’ and ‘unacceptable’ outcome.”
Breault said authorities also were provoked by Jones’ pledge to investigate police abuses.