By Kathy Jefcoats
Noting the "vigorous objections" of the state solicitor, Henry County Magistrate Robert Godwin on Friday declined to bind over an auto theft charge sought against a Covington man.
John Wilson Glenn, 40, was arrested Wednesday on the charge brought against him by a lifelong friend, Magdalene McDonald, stemming from an incident that happened more than a year ago.
"I find there is not sufficient evidence to bind it over the grand jury," said Godwin, adding that the charge can be presented directly to the district attorney for grand jury consideration.
McDonald said she never intended for Glenn, who grew up with her sons, to be arrested.
"I was told I had to take out warrants in order for the insurance company to pay the claim," she said.
Under direct examination by Henry State Court Assistant Solicitor Gib Crosby, McDonald said she asked Glenn, a mechanic, to take a look at her BMW just after Christmas 2002. Glenn agree, she said, and he drove it to the Stockbridge shop where he worked at the time.
On New Year's Day 2003, McDonald said she called to find out if the car was ready. She said she was shocked to learn that her car was not there.
"They told me it was missing out of the lot," she said. "I asked for John Glenn and they told me he didn't work there anymore."
Rockdale County police contacted McDonald.
"I had no idea where my car was," said McDonald. "I was notified by police that they were looking at my car as a hit and run."
Under direct examination by defense attorney Jeff Cofer, Glenn told Godwin that he decided the car would need a new transmission and was driving it to McDonald's home when he had an accident. Although he exchanged information with the other driver, Glenn said he left the scene because he was afraid of being arrested for driving under a suspended license.
He was eventually arrested on that charge and served time in the Rockdale County jail after his conviction.
Cofer's cross-examination of McDonald was contentious, with allegations of insurance fraud.
"Didn't you file a false claim to the insurance company?" said Cofer, alleging that McDonald tried to have the company pay for repairs beyond the accident.
"No," she said.
After the accident, Glenn said he drove the BMW to his house and did not call McDonald. But he added that he called her from the Rockdale County jail last summer, telling her he planned to pay for damages and begging her to drop the theft charge.