A congressional candidate for northwest Georgia will be in a jail cell from now through election day.
Steven Lamar Foster, a Democrat running against Republican incumbent U.S. Rep. Tom Graves, was sentenced to six months in jail during a hearing in Whitfield County Superior Court today. Judge Cindy Morris also sentenced him to six months on probation following his release from jail.
Dalton police arrested Foster on West Walnut Avenue around 2:20 a.m. on Sept. 23. According to an incident report, he blew a .103 on a breathalyzer. The maximum punishment for a first-time DUI offense is one year in jail.
"I was floored when the sentence came down," his fiance, Connie Hall-Scott, told the Times Free Press after the hearing today. "... I was astounded because this is crazy unfair."
For months, Foster represented himself in court and filed a motion to dismiss in July, arguing that Dalton police failed to give him an independent blood sample that he could test to prepare his defense. (In an incident report, an officer wrote that Foster demanded some sort of chemical test but would not clarify what he wanted.)
Days before his trial last week, Foster hired attorney Richard Murray. A jury convicted him Aug. 6.
His election against Graves is in November, but his six-month sentence would keep him in jail until February. After the hearing, Hall-Scott said she wasn't sure whether Foster, a former doctor, will drop out from the race.
After his conviction last week, the Dalton Daily Citizen-News reported on dashcam footage from his arrest. Among other inflammatory statements, the cameras capture Foster saying, "I hate this county. I prayed to God that he would curse it. And guess what? He did. Man, I saw it hit and cursed, and I saw people laid off right and left — white people."
Today, Hall-Scott said, "He does not hate Whitfield County. He was angry, under duress. He wishes he could take those words back. He went off on a tangent, and that's regrettable."