Attorney says deputy ‘relieved’ case dropped

The attorney representing a Clayton County Sheriff's deputy, accused of obstruction of an officer, said Thursday that his client is "relieved" the case against him has been dismissed.

Terry Jerome Lee, 40, of Conyers, was arrested Jan. 20, and charged with misdemeanor obstruction. Clayton County State Court Solicitor General Tasha Mosley dropped the case against Lee Wednesday, saying there was not enough probable cause to secure a conviction.

Lee's attorney, Keith Martin, said Thursday that he is grateful for Mosley's decision.

"Terry is very happy about it," he said. "I talked to him this morning and it's a big relief to him. He's grateful and relieved."

Martin held the office of Clayton County Solicitor General from 1988, to 2004. He is in private practice in Jonesboro.

Lee remains on unpaid administrative leave, pending an internal and Georgia Bureau of Investigation query into the allegations against him. Documents released to the Clayton News Daily under the Open Records Act, by the Clayton Sheriff's Office, detail events leading up to Lee's arrest.

Lee's alleged actions are intertwined with the investigation of his former boss, Victor Hill. Hill, who served as sheriff from 2005, to 2008, was indicted Jan. 18, on 37 criminal charges, including theft, lying, racketeering, influencing a witness and violation of the oath of public office.

As part of the conditions of his Jan. 20 bond, Hill is to not have any contact with Lee, identified in court records as a potential prosecution witness. Lee is one of Hill's former drivers. Reportedly, the two have been friends for about 20 years.

Investigators allege that Lee has met with Hill, while on duty, to lend him money. Lee is under investigation for not dedicating time to the sheriff's office while at work, according to detectives. Martin said the next step is getting Lee back on the payroll.

"Now that we've cleared that hurdle, the goal is to get Terry a paycheck coming in," said Martin.

According to the Open Records documents, Hill was under surveillance during December. While under surveillance, on Dec. 29, Hill and Lee met at a Morrow sports bar. Detectives recorded Hill getting a pump shotgun from his car trunk and handing it over to Lee. Lee put the gun in his car, and left.

"Investigators described the transaction as only taking three seconds, or less, and no apparent conversation having taken place between Hill and Lee," states the summary.

During an interview, on Jan. 20, Lee told investigators he still had the shotgun. He was unable to provide a reason why Hill gave him the shotgun, but thought it was a Christmas gift. Martin said there is a simple explanation.

"It was a birthday present," said Martin. Lee's birthday is Jan. 1.

Investigators were curious about the weapon, because Sheriff Kem Kimbrough has been looking for five Mossberg pump shotguns, reportedly missing from inventory when he took office in January 2009. A subsequent investigation revealed Lee's shotgun to not be stolen from the sheriff's office.

However, before that could be determined, detectives grew suspicious of Lee's persistent use of a SmartPhone, after the initial interview. "These communications, text messages or phone calls, would also be further evidence of the crime of tampering with evidence if Lee had called, texted, or otherwise contacted someone, to remove or conceal the shotgun," states the summary.

Detectives asked Lee to surrender the phone, so they could preserve potential evidence, or secure it, until they could get a search warrant. Lee refused, according to the summary.

"Lee was sitting in plain view, and his arms lying on the table, wrapped around the phone, guarding and protecting the phone from seizure," states the summary." Lee verbally refused to turn over the phone and continued to guard it on the table."

When detectives demanded the phone, Lee "grabbed the phone up from the table, clutching it in his left hand close to his body."

Lee, who is six-feet tall, and weighs 300 pounds, reportedly struggled with the four investigators interviewing him about the phone. The summary describes furniture in the interview room as being "disturbed" as the four struggled for control of Lee.

Lee was arrested and booked into the Clayton County Jail. He posted a $3,000 bond and was released.

The phone has not been returned, according to the summary. It is not known what information, if any, it may contain that may be pertinent to the case against Hill.

"Lee's cell phone continues to be retained pending further instructions of the special prosecutor, District Attorney Layla Zon, of the Alcovy Circuit ... as the data on this phone may be relevant to other prosecutions in the Hill investigation, and could be subject to recovery under a future search warrant," said the report.