By Curt Yeomans
Clayton County Board of Education member Trinia Garrett and her live-in boyfriend, Albert Stocken, pleaded "not guilty" in Clayton County State Court on Monday to charges of simple battery and family violence-simple battery, according to Garrett's attorney.
Garrett and Stocken will return to state court on October 15 for a joint jury trial before State Court Judge Linda Cowen, Clayton County Solicitor General Tasha Mosley said.
If they are found guilty by a jury, the pair could face up to a year in prison, or on probation; a $1,000 fine; possible community service and mandatory family counseling, Mosley said.
"I did not expect either one of them to plead 'guilty' [on Monday]," Mosley said. "You have both parties claiming the other was the primary aggressor, so we'll see what a jury decides."
The charges stem from an April 19 altercation, which Lake City Police Officer Carol Parker described as being over "a credit card charge of $85 for a motel room" in an April 21 arrest affidavit for Garrett. Garrett allegedly "grabbed a chain and pulled it from the neck of Stocken," Parker wrote in the arrest affidavit.
Mosley said see wants Garrett and Stocken to be tried together because of the similar nature of the charges. "We try to keep them together because the same witnesses are involved for both of them," Mosley said.
Attorney Herbert Adams, who was retained by Garrett over the weekend, said the April 19 incident was a case of the Lake City Police "overreacting" to an argument between two people living in the same house. He said the police did not get involved in the incident until two days later, after medical personnel treating Garrett for "difficulty breathing" noticed marks on Garrett and called police.
"There was no emergency. It was two days later," Adams said. "This is very much a case of the police overreacting to something."
Adams said Garrett and Stocken are still in a relationship with each other, and are still living together. Stocken's attorney, Danielle Roberts, declined to comment on the case.
As a member of the school board, Garrett represents families with students who attend Riverdale, Mt. Zion and Forest Park high schools; Babb, Jonesboro, Riverdale and Sequoyah middle schools, and Fountain, Harper, Haynie, Kilpatrick, Lake City, Morrow, Riverdale and Tara elementary schools.
On July 21, Clayton County School Board Chairperson Alieka Anderson told the Clayton News Daily the school board is treating the charges as a personal matter between Garrett and Stocken, and no possible disciplinary action is likely against Garrett unless she is convicted of the charges.