D.A. discusses first year-and-a-half on the job, admits that some things need to be "shored up"
In retrospect, T. Wright Barksdale's timing wasn't the greatest.
He was sworn in as the new district attorney for the Ocmulgee Judicial Circuit on Dec. 30, 2020. That same year, Milledgeville-Baldwin County recorded eight homicides, which was the most on record in 35 years. Also in 2020, as well as 2021 and so far into 2022, gang violence has surged to levels rarely seen since the heyday of street gangs in Baldwin County back in the 1990s.
To complicate matters, murders and violent crime also have increased in some of the other seven counties in the judicial district – Hancock, Jasper, Greene, Morgan, Putnam, Washington and Wilkinson.
We're pedaling as fast as we can," Barksdale told Baldwin2K News in a wide-ranging interview. "The D.A.'s office in this circuit has tried more murder cases in the last year-and-a-half than probably the previous five years, combined. We've tried, I believe, a total of 23 or 24 homicide cases, including two death penalty cases. So, we're taking an aggressive stance on the cases that are brought to us. But, quite frankly, our cup is sort of running over, if you know what I mean. I have eight counties and 10 attorneys that handle day-to-day prosecution in Superior Court.
At the same time, however, Barksdale admits that there are some things within his office that need to be "shored up," as he puts it. For example, Barksdale recently fired one of his assistant district attorneys in the fallout of a triple shooting in the Riverbend apartments last month. One of the men involved in the shooting – Netobia Williams – was out on bond for murder following a deadly shootout on the southside last autumn.
Essentially, Barksdale felt as if the assistant district attorney assigned to that murder didn't work diligently enough to bring Williams' case in front of a grand jury and an indictment within 90 days. In the state of Georgia, a Superior Court defendant is entitled to a bond if his/her case isn't indicted within 90 days. This is what happened with Williams, and he was released on a $150,000 property bond and proceeded to find more legal trouble.
"It should've never gotten to the point where the suspect was eligible for a bond," Barksdale said. "In a perfect world, my office would've indicted that case, and we wouldn't have put a judge in a predicament to give him a bond. There's nothing that the judge did wrong."
Also, Barksdale said that his office needs to do a better job of monitoring individuals who are arrested once again after already being out on bond. A case study is Kibias Mosley, one of the men involved in a "rolling gunfight" through Central State Hospital, which occurred at a time when Georgia College & State University was hosting a cookout and bluegrass concert in the pecan grove for Parents Weekend. Mosley was quickly arrested after the shootout, but he was released from the county jail on bond after roughly three months. Following his release, Mosley subsequently released a music video where he brags about how he "only did 14 weeks" in the county jail.
Fresh outta the county, and I'm back on the streets. They thought that I was gonna be gone, but I only did 14 weeks.
Mosley already was out on bond during the shootout through Central State. That's where the problem lies. Barksdale didn't want to specifically discuss the Mosley case, but he said that his office needs to make sure that any suspect who's out on bond and subsequently is arrested once again needs to "stay in jail."
"I sent out a memo to our (assistant district attorneys). Basically, I don't care if someone who is out on bond then gets arrested for driving with a license suspended. We need to file a motion to revoke that person's bond. Having a bond is a privilege," he said. "What my instructions were is 'look, when someone commits a new crime and they were out on bond, I expect that the (assistant district attorneys) in this office will file the appropriate documentation to have that person's bond revoked.'"
Barksdale said that he promises "to stay in the trenches."
"These individuals that have large criminal rap sheets and these individuals who are committing these shootings, we want to do everything we can to take them off the street for as long as we possibly can," he added. "Period."