Fact-Checking Claims in the Macon DA's Race

7:29 AM, Nov 3, 2012   |    comments
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The most contested local race this campaign season has been for the District Attorney of the Macon Judicial Circuit between incumbent Greg Winters and David Cooke.

Cooke challenged Winters two years ago when Howard Simms left the seat to run for Superior Court Judge. In that non-partisan special election, Winters won.

Now Cooke is running advertisements that claim Winters dismissed all eight of the rape cases he's handled as prosecutor.

But is that true?

13WMAZ looked at those eight cases. The files show that Winters did dismiss those rape charges but each appears to have been dismissed for legitimate reasons.

Those reasons include insufficient evidence, witnesses giving different statements, and in one case, a video that didn't support the alleged victims accusation.

In another rape case, the alleged victim and her mother asked for the case to be dismissed. In addition, one statutory rape case was dismissed in Superior Court because it was already handled in State Court.

13WMAZ also saw nine of the 27 murder cases Winters handled.

He dismissed three of those nine murder charges. Two were dismissed after law enforcement officials notified Winters that they'd charged the wrong person. Another murder case was ruled self-defense.

Cooke is a Democrat seeking to unseat Winters, a Republican. 

In a recent news release, Cooke listed more than 80 questionable cases. 13WMAZ reviewed only 17 of those cases. The DA's office says the rest won't be available until sometime next week.

Meanwhile, Winters said the cases we've reviewed show he's handled his his cases properly.

"When you're told by law enforcement either, one they arrested the wrong person, or two, the rape didn't happen, you know, the number one job of a prosecutor is to seek justice and for me to continue on with the prosecution when, one you either have the wrong person, or two what the person is charged with didn't happen, I think it obviously would be improper," Winters said.

But Cooke said Winters cherry-picked a few cases to disclose to the media while still keeping child molestation cases under wraps," Cooke said.

Cooke noted an open records request made by a community member in September. 

"I find it very interesting that as it stands now, the open records request that a child advocate, a person who has devoted their lives to protecting children, is still being stonewalled and can't see them until possibly the night before the election, if that," Cooke said.

Cooke and Winters meet in Tuesday's general election. 

The winner will be the district attorney for the Macon Judicial Circuit for the next four years. The circuit covers Bibb, Crawford and Peach counties.

 

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