Murray deputy arrests woman who said judge solicited sex

Murray deputy arrests woman who said judge solicited sex

August 16th, 2012 by Joy Lukachick Smith in News

Angela Garmley

Bryant Cochran

Photo by WRCB-TV Channel 3 /Times Free Press.

Document: Murray County incident report

The woman whose complaint sparked a state investigation into whether Murray County Magistrate Bryant Cochran solicited her for sex has been arrested on drug charges.

On Tuesday night, Angela Garmley was pulled over by a Murray County sheriff's deputy after he said her car's driver failed to dim its bright lights. When Garmley, who was the passenger, tried to get out of the car and stumbled, the deputy pulled out his drug dog -- which already was in his patrol car -- and searched around the vehicle, a detailed two-page incident report states.

When the dog sniffed and stopped at the driver's side of the door, the deputy asked to search the car and found nothing. Then, according to his report, he said he remembered training sessions that said drugs could be hidden under the car in a magnetic box. When he reached under Garmley's car, he found a magnetic box with methamphetamine inside, the incident report shows.

Garmley, the driver, Jason Southern and her husband Joe were arrested. Southern and Garmley were charged with possession of meth, while her husband was arrested on obstruction charges, authorities say. Southern also was charged with driving on a suspended license.

But Garmley's attorney is calling for an outside agency to investigate the arrest and also said that Cochran should step down.

"It stinks to high heaven," said McCracken "Ken" Poston. "I announced in open court that it needed to be investigated by an outside party to clear local officials' names because everybody is going to be tainted by this."

The Murray County Clerk's office said Garmley doesn't have a previous record in the county.

The Murray County Sheriff's Office stands behind its investigation, but Chief Deputy Ray Sitton wouldn't comment on specific questions and hung up immediately after saying the deputy was certified to carry a K-9 and regularly kept the dog in his car during patrol.

Recently, Poston and law enforcement officials have confirmed that the Georgia Judicial Qualifications Commission is investigating Cochran on allegations that he tried to get Garmley to come to his chambers to have sex with him in order to rule in favor of her case, in which she claimed three people beat her up.

Conasauga District Attorney Bert Poston has confirmed that Cochran also is being investigated for pre-signing warrants, which is a serious allegation, he said in an email Wednesday afternoon.

Cochran, who hasn't been in the office since last Friday, couldn't be reached by phone. His attorney Chris Townley didn't return calls for comment, but in a previous interview said Cochran denied Garmley's allegations.

Bert Poston declined to comment on Garmley's case, saying she was under investigation.

But McCracken Poston, who is not related to Bert Poston, said Garmley was at a friend's house Tuesday when she stepped on a nail. Southern offered to drive her home, but he had a suspended license, Poston said.

When the deputy pulled the car over, he became suspicious because of Southern's suspended license, according to the report. Joe Garmley wasn't in the car when it was pulled over near the couple's home, but he came out on a four-wheeler and tried to question his wife, the incident report claims.

When Joe Garmley got in a argument with his wife and wouldn't stop, the deputy arrested him on obstruction charges, the report says.

Angela Garmley also had her children in the car when they were pulled over, records show.