By Kathy Jefcoats
JONESBORO — A teenager arrested with a former veteran DeKalb County police captain in connection with multiple thefts from his Lake Jodeco neighbors has admitted his guilty in Clayton County Superior Court.
Evan Tyler Caudle, 18, is the son of former Capt. Suzanne Eleanor Kaulbach's domestic partner, Misty Dawn Caudle. The trio, along with Evan Caudle's friend, Donavin Thomas O'Leary, were named in a 20-count indictment in November. Evan Caudle's then-pregnant girlfriend, Shannon Kirkpatrick, 18, pleaded guilty as a first offender in June 2012 to theft by taking and got probation and a fine. Another Caudle friend, Aron Childress, pleaded guilty as a first offender in July to theft by taking, theft by receiving stolen property and criminal use of an article with an altered identification mark. Childress was sentenced to probation and a fine.
Evan Caudle pleaded as a first offender to 10 felonies and one misdemeanor. In exchange for his plea, the state dropped seven other charges. Judge Geronda Carter sentenced Caudle to 10 years, to serve two in jail. Prosecutors said Caudle has spent almost a year in the county jail, for which he was given credit. Carter also ordered Caudle to boot camp, 300 hours of community service and a $3,000 fine.
Caudle will also return to court in about 18 months for a restitution hearing, said Carter.
Carter ordered Caudle to stay away from his theft victims, some of whom are his neighbors on Jodeco Road. However, prosecutor Marcus Thorpe said when he is released from custody, Caudle will return to the Kaulbach-Caudle home on Jodeco Road.
"The co-defendants are living there and that's where he will return," said Thorpe. "We just need him ordered to not go on neighbors' properties. The victims are OK with that recommendation."
Clayton County Chief Magistrate Daphne Walker ordered Kaulbach arrested following a July pre-issuance hearing and charged her with theft by receiving stolen property and criminal use of an altered identification mark. She was immediately taken into custody and later released on bond from the Clayton County Jail.
The arrest followed a daylong pre-issuance hearing in Magistrate Court where testimony was heard about a stolen jon boat, two four-wheelers and fishing equipment that started popping up in her yard in April 2012, about a month after she bought a home on Lake Jodeco.
Kaulbach moved into the home with Misty Caudle, Caudle's son, Evan Caudle, and his pregnant girlfriend, Kirkpatrick, both of whom were 17 at the time. Days later, Childress also moved in because his family was being evicted and he had no place to stay, Kaulbach testified last year.
Kirkpatrick, eight months pregnant, also testified in July to the thefts.
"All three of us stole the jon boat from a neighbor across the lake," she said. "We crossed over in a pontoon boat. Coming back, Aron rode in the jon boat and held on to the pontoon. Just me and the boys knew about the theft, Suzanne and Misty knew nothing."
But Walker didn't buy it. In her ruling, Walker said Kaulbach should have known the items were stolen, given her 24 years experience in law enforcement and thousands of training hours. Kaulback is also an instructor at Georgia Piedmont College in Newton County.
"It appears she deliberately closed her eyes to avoid enlightenment," said Walker in July. "It is apparent her suspicions were aroused but she made no effort to contact a mother or stepfather and say, 'Hey, wait a minute, all these things are coming into my home.' If the family is being evicted, a reasonable person would think if they had items of value, they would be sold."
The remaining three defendants are awaiting trial and should be considered innocent until proven guilty.