ROME, Ga. - As Murray County Deputy Josh Greeson pulled a metal tobacco tin out from its hiding place under a car, the suspect screamed.
"That's not mine!" Angela Garmley said, standing near her Chatsworth, Ga., trailer.
"Yeah, it is!" Greeson said.
"No, it's not! It's not mine!"
"You're under arrest!"
Popping open the tin, which had an attached magnet so it would stick to the car, Greeson pulled out its contents.
"What it looks like to me is methamphetamine," he told Garmley. "One, two, three, four, five baggies."
Garmley kept saying she was innocent as Greeson arrested her. She said she had been set up by Bryant Cochran, the Murray County magistrate whom she had publicly accused of sexually harassing her.
More than two years after that August 2012 arrest, Garmley now is the key witness in a public corruption case against Cochran that is ongoing in U.S. District Court. She is expected to testify next week.
Charges against Cochran include conspiracy and deprivation of civil rights, conspiring to distribute a controlled substance and intimidating a witness. That last charge carries a sentence of up to 20 years in prison.
Greeson pleaded guilty to an obstruction charge in April 2013 for lying about the arrest. So did Cochran's cousin, Murray County Sheriff's Capt. Michael Henderson. Cochran's tenant, Clifford "C.J." Joyce, pleaded guilty to conspiring to distribute a controlled substance in relation to Garmley's arrest.
On Friday, prosecutors played a dashcam video of Garmley's arrest and showed the jury phone records showing that Cochran called one of the arresting officers to make sure the officer found the drugs on Garmley's car.
Around 10 p.m. on Aug. 14, 2012, Greeson stopped Garmley's white Dodge Charger. Twenty-two minutes later, Greeson guided a drug-sniffing dog around the vehicle. The dog did not find anything.
Henderson, who was at the scene but away from Greeson and Patrol Cpl. Joe Wilkey, called Cochran one minute later. He did not connect, but Cochran called him back. They talked for two minutes.
At 10:30 p.m., Henderson told Wilkey that the drugs were on the bottom of the driver's side of the car. Wilkey repeated the information to Greeson, who was searching Garmley's trunk.
At 10:32 p.m., Greeson found the metal tin. One minute after that, Henderson called Cochran again.
Immediately, Garmley accused Cochran of framing her.
"I knew this was comin'!" she yelled at Greeson. "I knew this was comin'! It makes me mad because I know who did it!"
Wilkey, who was never charged in relation to the incident, testified Friday that Henderson didn't tell him how he knew where to look for the drugs.
The next day, Greeson presented Conasauga Judicial Circuit District Attorney Bert Poston with an incident report on the arrest. Usually, Poston testified, reports concerning traffic stops with drug arrests are about a half-page long. But Greeson wrote almost five pages. Poston found that odd.
Also, the report does not accurately describe how Greeson found the drugs. He said he learned during a training course that drug users keep their contraband under the car. He did not mention that Wilkey told him to look there after getting a tip from Henderson.
Cochran's attorney, Page Pate, took this evidence in stride. Since the trial's beginning, he has maintained that his client gave Henderson and other officers a tip that Garmley had drugs. This tip originated from another citizen, Pate said.
Pate denies that Cochran had anything to do with planting the drugs. The calls from Henderson to Cochran at the crime scene don't change his argument: The magistrate was just providing more specific information, Pate said.
Contact staff writer Tyler Jett at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 423-757-6476.
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