HENRY CO (CBS46)—Henry County court officials reported jury trials have returned since a pause across the state due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The first jury trial to take place in Henry County involved Shawn R. Clark, 25.
Clark, according to a spokesperson with the Henry County district attorney’s office, was convicted of child molestation and public indecency. He was convicted for exposing himself in front of a toddler who was visiting him while he was incarcerated at the Henry County jail.
The jury returned the guilty verdict after deliberating less than 30 minutes, according to Megan L. Matteucci, the attorney who prosecuted the case.
Clark was sentenced to 20 years with the first 10 years to be served in prison. Also, he must register as a sex offender and have no contact with children.
This was Henry County’s first jury trial following the Georgia Supreme Court Chief Justice’s Emergency Order halting jury trials in March 2020.
Supreme Court Chief Justice Harold D. Melton lifted the statewide jury trial suspension in March.
“We are pleased to be able to be back to doing in-person jury trials in a courtroom environment that meets the safety standards recommended by the Department of Health,” District Attorney Darius Pattillo said.
According to Matteucci, Clark’s trial relied heavily on technology to allow jurors to be socially distanced and evidence to be shared digitally on several monitors placed throughout the courtroom.
Henry County implemented the following new jury trial procedures to lessen the spread COVID-19:
- Social distancing
- Mask mandates
- Plexiglass dividers in the courtroom
- Air filters
Copyright 2021 WGCL-TV (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.