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BOE member faces new charges in domestic dispute

By Linda Looney-Bond

lbond@news-daily.com

Clayton County School Boardmember Trinia Garrett, and a man with whom she lived, now face additional charges in connection with an April domestic-violence incident.

Garrett, 36, of Lake City, allegedly provoked an altercation with Albert Stocken on April 19, by, reportedly, arguing with him about a credit-card charge for a motel room, then snatching a necklace from Stocken's neck, according to Lake City police.

Both were later arrested and released on bond. The two were initially charged with one count, each, of simple battery and simple battery-family violence.

The additional charges came Tuesday during a hearing in Clayton County State Court regarding motions filed by defense attorneys in the case.

"It was a general demurrer, saying that ... it [the accusation] was not specific enough," said Janet Smith-Taylor, deputy chief assistant solicitor general for Clayton County. "What I did yesterday was I re-read everything and broke everything down into more specific charges. I was just making the counts more specific, in that the defense was asking for more clarification," said Smith-Taylor.

The result was three additional charges for Garrett and two additional charges for Stocken, according to Smith-Taylor.

"They were arraigned on those charges today, because I added new charges," Smith-Taylor said Tuesday. "They were given a copy of those new charges, and they pled not guilty," she said.

Garrett's new charges are two counts of criminal trespass and one charge of simple assault.

"The first criminal trespass is for her breaking the neckchain," said Smith-Taylor. "With the second criminal trespass, I found in the report that he [Stocken] alleged that she took his cell phone, credit card, and a security badge for work. He could not get them back from her, so what I charged her with was taking those things, and interfering with his property," she said.

"The simple assault is because he made reference to the officers that she ran at him or charged him, and he was protecting himself from her," said Smith-Taylor.

Garrett's attorney, Herbert Adams, said the additional charges were uncalled for. "The demurrer did not necessitate the additional charges," he said. "I'm not quite sure why the prosecution said, because of the demurrer, they added additional charges. That did not make sense to me, but they have the discretion to do that," he said. "I think the case is overcharged, but we'll deal with them in court, and we look forward to dealing with them successfully at trial," said Adams.

Adams said he also filed a motion to suppress statements that Garrett made to police, and photographs taken by police. "I think the statements were made without her being Marandized," said Adams. "She should have been Marandized before those statements were made," he said. He added: "Before she allowed the photographs to be taken, she should have been advised of her rights, and she was not."

The motion to supress was continued until a hearing set for Oct. 8 in Clayton County State Court, according to Smith-Taylor. She said Attorney Danielle Roberts also filed a motion to suppress information on behalf of Albert Stocken, but that motion was withdrawn.

The new charges brought against Stocken, Tuesday, were battery-family violence and battery, according to Smith-Taylor.

She said the battery-family violence charge stems from the fact that Garrett allegedly told police that Stocken had grabbed her, and that she had visible scratches. "There were visible injuries that the officers saw. That was why I added that charge," Smith-Taylor said.

She said the battery charge was filed as an alternative to the battery-family violence charge, in the event that the prosecution cannot establish that a family relationship existed between Garrett and Stocken.

Roberts could not be reached for comment.

The charges are all misdemeanors, according to Smith-Taylor. She said the maximum sentence Garrett could receive would be four years in jail and a $4,000 fine. She said Stocken could get two years in jail and a $2,000 fine.

"If I remember correctly, neither one of them has any criminal history. If it's your first misdemeanor, they're not going to throw the book at you the first time," said Smith-Taylor.

"It's not going to be the maximums. It'll probably be fairly standard minimums on all of it," she said.

Garrett is the District 7 representative on the school board, and also the co-founder of the Putting the Past Behind Us Wish Foundation, an organization she started with her daughter to offer assistance to children who are victims of sexual abuse.