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'We want the murderers behind bars': Eurie Martin's family speaks after new prosecutor assigned to tasing death case

District Attorney Tripp Fitzner, the original prosecutor, recused his office from the case, claiming a conflict. Then, the case sat idle for months.

WASHINGTON COUNTY, Ga. — Three Washington County deputies involved in the tasing death of Eurie Martin could face a second trial.

Prosecutors say deputies Henry Lee Copeland, Michael Howell, and Rhett Scott had no reason to stop Martin or tase him in 2017. Instead, they were fired and charged with murder.

But after a mistrial in October, the original prosecutor backed out. Middle Judicial District Attorney Tripp Fitzner recused his office from the case, claiming a conflict. Then, the case sat idle for months.

The Prosecuting Attorney's Council confirmed Tuesday they assigned the case to Stacey Jackson, the Chattahoochee Judicial Circuit District Attorney based in Columbus. Jackson accepted the case this past Friday.

"It's been agonizing. Just waiting and seeing who is going to take this case. Is it going to be tried, right? We want a fair trial, and we want the murderers behind bars," said Barbara Evans, Martin's sister.

For the past five years, Martin's family has sat in courtrooms and walked the streets protesting, hoping this case would lead to justice one day. But, after Tuesday's news, they feel closer to it. 

"We are hoping that this prosecution team will do the right thing in the eyes of the law. This family… they're not asking for handouts. They're just asking for justice," said family friend Leonard Jordan.

Jordan says in that time, he's called the Attorney General's office and Prosecuting Attorney's Council weekly--begging for a chance that the case would be re-tried.

"...for them three murderers to walk out of that courtroom free. We got to walk around and see them. We can see them. But they [Martin's family] can't see their loved one. He had no reason to die. He died because he was Black walking in a Caucasian neighborhood," Jordan said. 

Executive Director Pete Skandalakis with the Prosecuting Attorney's Council says Martin's case was one of over 300 cases his office inherited from the Attorney General's office. As of July 1, PAC is now responsible for assigning cases where a prosecutor claims a conflict. 

So far, 222 cases, including Martin's, have been assigned a new prosecutor, according to Skandalakis. 

"We've had some cases languishing for years… and that's not fair to the victims of those crimes.. and it's not fair to defendants who are awaiting trial," Skandalakis said. 

Skandalakis says Jackson's office is equipped to take on this type of case. 

"This case does have some notoriety to it. It does have some serious implications. You want to give it to someone who has the experience… and has the know-how… and can handle this case," Skandalakis said. 

The Prosecuting Attorney's Council says it's ultimately up to Jackson whether the case will go to trial again. 

We contacted Jackson for comment on if and how he plans to move forward with the case. He says he does not wish to comment at this time. Jackson says his office is waiting on the case file. 

PREVIOUS COVERAGE:

Former Washington County deputies involved in Eurie Martin's death may get second trial

Human rights activist seeks retrial in Washington County fatal Tasing case

 No decision yet on second trial for ex-Washington County deputies accused in fatal tasing

Judge declares mistrial in murder trial of 3 ex-Washington County deputies accused in fatal Tasing

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