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Badge and Bar: Ex-jailer named in federal lawsuit facing criminal charges
1228Dustin Charlton
Dustin Charlton

An ex-jailer from the Hall County Sheriff’s Office has been indicted on a felony charge of violation of oath by a public officer and two misdemeanor counts of simple battery.

Dustin Charlton, 28, was accused of striking a handcuffed inmate on Sept. 8, 2012, in his official capacity at the Hall County Jail. He was indicted by a Hall County grand jury on Feb. 20.

Charlton faces other legal issues as well: A federal civil lawsuit against him is still lingering in Gainesville’s federal court at the magistrate level. Charlton was involved in a Dec. 22, 2010, incident where he was not charged but suspended for five days without pay. The suit was filed on Dec. 14, 2012.

Plaintiffs Devonta Wise, his brother Mautious Wise and Russell Green are suing the sheriff’s office, Charlton and then-Jail Capt. Mark Bandy for $20 million dollars, alleging civil rights abuse.

A defense motion to dismiss the case said Mautious Wise had made a deal with prosecutors that gave the sheriff’s office immunity from a lawsuit, according to federal court documents.

But Magistrate Court Judge Clay Fuller denied the motion on Dec. 13, 2013, writing there was sufficient evidence calling into question if the deal was legally enforceable, citing various defense concerns, including that Wise was not well-represented, and that case law considers whether an offense was overcharged to leverage a plea deal.

Wise, a boarded-in inmate from Fulton County, was released for time served after pleading guilty on Oct. 18, 2011, to riot in a penal institution for his role in the incident. He faced a 20-year maximum sentence.

Fuller granted a defense motion terminating former Sheriff Steve Cronic as a defendant, and any attempt to hold the sheriff’s office liable in its official capacity, finding there was not evidence of systemic civil rights abuse resulting from policy.

An April deadline has been set for discovery in the federal civil case, and Charlton is scheduled to enter an plea in the state criminal case before Judge Bonnie Oliver later this month.

He has posted $20,000 bond at the Hall County Jail.

Motions filed in Peppers shooting

Attorneys representing a Gainesville man accused of murder have filed 65 motions in the Hall County Superior Court case.

Joseph Scott Williams, 33, was charged with murder in the fatal shooting of 37-year-old Adiren Lamont Thompson.

Police allege Williams shot Thompson multiple times in the parking lot outside the Peppers Market off E.E. Butler Parkway on June 3 in Gainesville.

Williams is charged with malice murder, felony murder, possession of a gun by a convicted felon, possession of a gun in commission of a crime, terroristic threats and cruelty to a child in the third degree, a misdemeanor.

He has pleaded not guilty to the charges. One of several requests in the motions includes a demand for trial by jury.

Other motions, filed by Senior Public Defender Travis Williams on March 3, related to evidence, including asking that any exonerating evidence be handed over from the prosecution.

The defense also asked for information on the state’s witnesses, including criminal records, and requested judicial review of the legality of investigative tactics, including searches of Williams’ home and cellphone, an interview with his spiritual adviser and statements made without receiving a Miranda warning of his right to remain silent.

Other motions related to a possible trial and prior hearings, including a request for a change of venue, a gag order on people related to the case talking to the media and restriction of access by the media to hearings on the motions.

The state’s deadline to respond to the motions is Friday, and Judge Jason Deal has ordered review hearings in April and May.

Williams has been held at the Hall County Jail since his arrest shortly after the incident.

Emma Witman covers public safety issues for The Times. Share your thoughts, news tips and questions with her: