County expected to pay for indicted officers’ legal counsel

Published 8:19 pm Friday, July 18, 2014

The Decatur County Board of Commissioners has come out in support of the four officers who were indicted by the Federal Grand Jury last Wednesday.

Decatur County Attorney Brown Moseley said the basis for their decision are the testimonials from Aaron Ronnie Parrish’s trial in February 2013, where Decatur County captain Elizabeth Croley, deputy Christopher Kines and former deputy Robert Umbach.

“In this incident, when people go to a public trial and testify under oath, that is not rumor, that is not street talk, that is evidence,” Moseley said.

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According to Moseley, Decatur County had engaged in outside legal counsel for the indicted officers during the course of the grand jury investigation. Now that indictments have been handed down, Decatur County has yet to pay for further counsel.

“We certainly have no intention of abandoning any county employee or former county employee until the facts are justified,” Moseley said. “At this point, they certainly have our support until some other evidence is forthcoming that warrants some reconsideration, and we stand by that.”

As of Friday afternoon, Decatur County has only received two invoices for legal counsel.

The Office of Gilbert J. Murrah, P.C. sent an invoice of $20,000 for the initial legal representation fee for Griffin, IV, who was not an employee of Decatur County during the incident. According to Moseley, Decatur County has no plans pay this invoice.

The Office of Joshua C. Bell LLC in Whigham has billed Decatur County $3,940 for the legal council of Croley, charging $200 per hour. Several charges on the bill indicate Ken Hodges of Albany is providing legal council for Decatur County Sheriff Wiley Griffin.

Moseley said the testimonies of the officers in court are not consistent with the allegations in the federal indictments, which charge them with the deprivation of rights under the color of law, false reports and tampering with a witness, victim or informant.

“What jumps out to me is that in the entire trial, there was never any mention by any witness that Wiley Griffin, IV, was involved in this at all,” Mosley said. “But yet in the federal indictment, he’s the one charged with striking Aaron Parrish.”

As far as the county is concerned, Moseley said he and the board were going to “listen to facts and consider the evidence we have, which is the testimony in the trial,” he said.

According to chairman Frank Loeffler, Decatur County will pay for all legal fees for the four indicted officers.

Next Tuesday at the County Commission meeting, the commissioners are expected to discuss and formally vote on paying for these legal expenses.