June 13, 2024

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GA Supreme Court Reverses Ruling- Reinstates Indictments Against Former Jailers of Dead Inmate

3 min read

The Court overturned a previous ruling that dismissed indictments against six former Fulton County jail employees implicated in the tragic death of an inmate


Written by Chief Investigative Reporter Kurt Dillon

Antonio May, who entered Fulton County Jail in 2018 on a misdemeanor charge, was grappling with mental health and substance abuse issues during his incarceration. Regrettably, an investigation conducted by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation revealed that May was subjected to a stun gun and pepper spray — events they believe contributed to and culminated in May’s untimely demise while in custody.

Following a thorough inquiry, a grand jury issued indictments against the deputies assigned to exert care, custody, and control over Antonio May while he was a ward of the state. Those individuals are: Aaron Cook, Guito Dela Cruz, Omar Jackson, Jason Roache, Kenesia Strowder, and William Whitaker.

Each of those deputies faced charges of murder in relation to May’s tragic passing.

In a significant turn of events, in November 2022, Fulton County Superior Court Judge Robert McBurney — the same judge overseeing the Donald Trump election case in Fulton County — dismissed the indictments against each of the guards, contending that the State had not afforded the six defendants an opportunity to present their case before a grand jury.

In response to the State’s appeal of McBurney’s decision, the Georgia Supreme Court convened in June 2023 and agreed to address the case. This past Wednesday, the judges delivered their ruling, unanimously overturning McBurney’s earlier decision and immediately reinstating the indictments against all six officers.

In their statement, the Court asserted:

“Today, the Court has reversed the trial court’s order, concluding that while the trial court generally defined ‘peace officer’ correctly, it employed the wrong analysis in doing so. The Court further concludes that the six defendants do not meet the definition of a peace officer and, therefore, are not entitled to the pre-indictment protections afforded by Georgia Code § 17-7-52.”

This decision marks a pivotal moment in the legal proceedings surrounding Antonio May’s tragic death, as the indicted former jail employees now face a reinstated path toward justice that could ostensibly net each of them life sentences without the possibility of parole for 40 years in accordance with Georgia’s laws pertaining to felony murder.

This case also serves as a poignant reminder of the importance of upholding accountability within the criminal justice system, particularly when it comes to the treatment and well-being of incarcerated individuals.

This is an ongoing story and you can count on The Peach Explorer to bring you new developments as additional details become available. We also recommend checking out our true crime podcast The Veritas 7 – available wherever you get your podcasts.

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