Criminal case against Craft's investigator dismissed

Criminal case against Craft's investigator dismissed

February 10th, 2011 by Joy Lukachick Smith in Local Regional News

The criminal charges against former North Georgia elementary school teacher Tonya Craft's private investigator were dismissed today.

Eric Echols, who was charged with trying to influence a witness in Craft's criminal case, said he received a letter that his charges were dismissed.

"Today is a great day," Echols said today in an e-mail.

Lookout Mountain Assistant District Attorney Alan Norton told the judge handling Echols' case that the state had decided not to pursue further charges, a written letter obtained by the Times Free Press shows.

After Echols was arrested he claimed it was to stop his investigation for Craft's case before she went to trial. Craft was acquitted on May 11, 2010, in Catoosa County on charges of 22 counts of child molestation and aggravated sexual battery.

Echols was arrested after a father of one of the girls who accused Craft of child molestation complained to the Catoosa County Sheriff's Office that Echols had tried to persuade him not to testify in Craft's trial. He was charged with three counts of tampering with a witness.

But Echols produced a transcript of the recorded conversation he had with the father, and the documents indicated the men were having a cordial conversation.

For complete details, see tomorrow's Chattanooga Times Free Press.