Corruption: The Path To Destruction, Part 2b



In Part 2a of this series, we left off right after Cory Sasser was given his second bond and was banished from Glynn County. A.D.A John B. Johnson made a deal with Sasser’s defense attorney concerning his bond conditions. Judge Cabiness thought the bond conditions were too lenient and added additional requirements. In the end, his bond conditions let Sasser stay with his sister in Alabama and required him to check-in with the CSRA probation office using a smartphone app instead of a GPS bracelet. Against court orders, Sasser never set up the app.


Part 2b

From May 24, 2018, until June 26, 2018, there isn’t much to know about Cory Sasser. His wife, Katie Kettles-Sasser, believed at one point that he’d been in town stalking her. Still, the investigation at that time was inconclusive.


On June 26, 2018, Sasser appeared in Glynn County for a custody hearing for his and Katie Kettles-Sasser’s child.

Afterward, Sasser and his adult son, Bryce, went to Moondoggies to order a pizza. Sasser allegedly made a gun gesture in Katie and John Hall’s direction, but Katie had her back turned and didn’t see it for herself. Nevertheless, she was justifiably concerned and notified authorities.

Unfortunately, the police couldn’t get enough information for an arrest. Being charged with Terroristic Threats would have put Sasser in jail and protected Katie. However, police need probable cause to make an arrest. And there was information provided that suggested the gesture Sasser made from across the room could have been his waving to a friend rather than a threat.

Was it reasonable for the officers to believe it was just a wave?

Maybe.


But after Sasser’s standoff with S.W.A.T. less than a month before, shouldn’t they have considered that Cory Sasser was dangerous?


Yes.


The problem was that after the standoff with S.W.A.T., and after Sasser had assaulted two fellow officers, the district attorney’s office was lenient on Sasser’s bond conditions. And Cory Sasser never spent a night in jail.


It’s reasonable that the investigating officers would think any arrest warrant they applied for wouldn’t be honored unless there was concrete proof of wrongdoing. Additionally, the forms to swear out a warrant is an affidavit that is sworn under oath that the officer has sufficient probable cause. A vague gesture from across a room wouldn’t be enough.


Officers can not arrest someone based on bond violations alone. However, they did report the breach to the court on June 27, 2018.



Judge Flay Cabiness told the investigator to contact the CSRA probation office about filing a motion to revoke Cory Sasser’s bond. CSRA Probation Officer Amy Corcoran informed the investigator that they would contact D.A. Jackie Johnson’s office.

On June 28, 2018, investigators were told by the CSRA probation officer that they wouldn’t revoke Cory Sasser’s bond unless the police department brought up new charges against him. On that same day, D.A. Jackie Johnson contacted Police Chief Powell and told him that her office would be arranging a bond revocation hearing.


Since the police department didn’t have probable cause to take out new warrants on Cory Sasser, they took steps to surveil the exterior of Katie Kettles-Sasser’s home in an attempt to find probable cause to arrest Cory Sasser for stalking. At that time, it seemed that this was most that the police department could legally do to protect Katie.


From the time of the Moondoggie’s incident on June 26, until Sasser murdered Katie Kettles-Sasser and John Hall the evening of June 28, what was Cory Sasser doing?

On June 27, 2018, Cory Sasser traded in his truck, opting for one that wouldn’t be recognizable.

On June 28, 2018, Cory Sasser paid for his own cremation and funeral. He then drove to Valdosta to buy ammunition and a new gun.


On the evening of June 28, 2018, Cory Sasser drove to John Hall’s residence, then shot John Hall in his driveway. Then he went into John’s house, forced his way through the bathroom door, where Katie Kettles-Sasser had been hiding, and then shot her as well.


It didn’t take long for law enforcement to arrive and chase Cory Sasser to his personal residence, where he took his own life.


Late June 28, 2018, Chief Powell had one of his officers contact the GBI to perform an investigation into these events.


On June 29, 2018, District Attorney Jackie Johnson’s office requested the GBI to investigate.


The Aftermath


If you were Monday morning quarterbacking this, a double-murder/suicide would seem the obvious conclusion to the sequence of events leading up to the night of June 28. The problem is, no one can know the future with any certainty. You must study the facts available and make the best decisions based on your limited information.

The events of June 28, 2018, were distressing. Understandably, elected officials worried about public perception. So, it’s no surprise that a closed-door meeting was called soon after these events. According to sources, attendants included D.A. Jackie Johnson, Chief John Powell, Sheriff Neal Jump, Mark Spaulding, County Manager Alan Ours, other county officials, and curiously, select private citizens.

According to sources, this meeting was called to decide how much information to release to the public. However, the exciting portion of the meeting was not about public perception, but about D.A. Jackie Johnson’s reputation.

More than one source has stated that during that meeting, it was brought up that a county employee, a GCPD officer, had publicly made derogatory statements about Jackie’s handling of the Sasser case on social media.

D.A. Jackie Johnson allegedly insisted that the officer be fired.

Government employees do not enjoy the same first amendment rights as private citizens. When in their official capacity, they are considered an extension of the government. When off duty, their speech can be regulated if a reasonable case can be made that their statements interfere with the operation of government.


The exception to this, of which D.A. Jackie Johnson should be aware, is when governmental employee statements fall under federal and state whistleblower statutes—which this officer’s statements potentially did.

In that closed-door meeting, Jackie took the issue even further. D.A. Jackie Johnson brought up the name of a private citizen who had also made unflattering comments about Jackie on social media.

D.A. Jackie Johnson allegedly looked to Chief Powell and informed him that he needed to “do something” about that citizen.

If the implications aren’t clear, please go back and re-read that last sentence.


What had D.A. Jackie Johnson meant when she insisted that the Police Chief “do something” about a private citizen exercising their first amendment right?


Hmm.


Now, this is where things get interesting.


The GCPD officer who Jackie Johnson allegedly wanted fired for making unflattering comments about her—he’s currently under indictment.


The Police Chief that Jackie Johnson allegedly urged to violate a citizen’s rights—he’s also under indictment.


Another interesting detail comes from an email the Baxley Informer discovered from Wrix McIlvaine to Jackie Johnson.



Wrix Mcllvaine is an attorney for Katie Kettles-Sasser’s mother. The civil suit that was emailed to Jackie Johnson was filed against the Glynn County Police Department and various police officers, including Police Chief Powell.


What interest did Jackie Johnson have in this civil suit?


Was she defending the Glynn County Police Department and Glynn County? Was she verifying the accuracy of the suits claims?


In its original form, the civil suit is directed almost exclusively at the Glynn County Police Department and its officers. The suit has many inaccuracies and deficiencies that D.A. Jackie Johnson could attest to.


Here are a few examples taken from the original filing on January 31, 2020:


1.



This statement is true. The police did assure Sasser that his firearms would be turned over to his family. What is not mentioned here is that it was Marissa Tindale, D.A. Jackie Johnson’s current employee, who was the negotiator on the phone with Sasser that night. Marissa Tindale was the one who told him that, and yet her name isn’t listed in the civil suit.


Below is a transcript of communications between Cory Sasser and Marissa Tindale taken from the night of Sasser’s standoff with S.W.A.T:



2.



This is false. The Sheriff’s department took charge of Sasser and escorted him from the scene to the hospital and then the medical facility. Documents proving this can be seen here, in Part 2a of this series. The sheriff and judges let Sasser voluntarily, not forcibly, admit himself into that medical facility. And yet, as of January 31, 2020, the sheriff wasn’t listed as a defendant in this civil suit.


3.



The information was not limited. Glynn County has a computerized system that allows the district attorney’s office access to police files. Additionally, the civil suit acknowledges one of the officers who came forward to drop charges, but it doesn’t address the other. Officer Hyers spoke with A.D.A. John B. Johnson before Sasser’s bond hearing, warning him that Cory Sasser was dangerous. Jackie Johnson’s assistant D.A. ignored that officer’s warnings, didn’t call Officer Hyers to speak during the court hearing even though he had a right to speak, and then ensured that Cory Sasser was let out on bond. And yet, A.D.A. John B. Johnson is not listed as a defendant in this civil suit.


4.



The bond conditions agreed to between the defense attorney, and A.D.A John B. Johnson were too lenient, so the judge added an additional requirement. Cory Sasser was required to download a CSRA electronic reporting app onto his phone. CSRA Probation Officer Amy Corcoran didn’t enforce this requirement because Cory Sasser told her that his bond would be modified. Amy Corcoran ignored the court’s order based on Cory Sasser’s word alone.


Additionally, as discussed earlier in this article, police have no authority to make arrests for bond violations. In fact, the way the system works, the probation office notifies the district attorney’s office of a bond violation. Then it is the district attorney who does the paperwork required to have the bond revoked. The police department had no authority to arrest Cory Sasser for a bond violation. The ultimate responsibility for that falls under the district attorney's office, and to a smaller degree, the probation office.


And yet, CSRA Probation Officer Amy Corcoran is not listed as a defendant in this civil suit.


Interestingly, Amy Corcoran is no longer a probation officer with CSRA.


Amy Corcoran currently works for D.A. Jackie Johnson.


5.



The GBI investigation conducted after Sasser murdered Katie Kettles-Sasser and John Hall, concluded that no one in the police department had assisted Sasser in his crimes. District Attorney Jackie Johnson was well aware of this, as stated in her press release on August 23, 2018. The full document can be seen by clicking this link.



6.



Based on the wording, just being in contact with someone wouldn’t be a violation. They would’ve had to provide Sasser assistance in his crimes. With text messages, that would be easy to prove. But what about phone calls? How could anyone know the content of a phone call? Cory Sasser certainly made a lot of phone calls leading up to his double-murder/suicide. Any one of those calls could have provided him with information.


Including phone calls from an assistant district attorney from D.A. Jackie Johnson’s office—Liberty Stewart.


Liberty Stewart admitted during her GBI interview that she’d been in communication with Cory Sasser throughout these events. She even mentioned that she’d been aware that Sasser was in Brunswick at his son’s house on June 24, two days before his court hearing, and in violation of his bond.