Dem DA in charge of Laken Riley murder steps down from case, has failed to secure one single guilty verdict during time in office

Attorney Kevin Epps, who is currently suing Gonzales on behalf of an Athens bar owner, said "Ms. Gonzalez has failed to achieve one guilty verdict in a jury trial involving any type of criminal case."

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Hannah Nightingale Washington DC
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Democrat Athens-Clarke District Attorney Deborah Gonzales, who was in charge of prosecuting the illegal immigrant suspect accused of murdering nursing student Laken Riley, has removed herself from the case and appointed a special prosecutor amid criticism that her office has failed to secure a single guilty verdict during the entire time she has been in office.

According to the New York Post, Gonzales has appointed veteran attorney Sheila Ross to serve as a special prosecutor in the case against Jose Ibarra for the murder of the 22-year-old student who had been out for a run at the University of Georgia at Athens campus.

"We will not allow this or any other case to be used for political gain," Gonzalez said in a statement. "Our top priority is the safety of every citizen, and we are fully committed to ensuring that justice is served for the loss of every life."

Gonzales stepping down from the case comes after Georgia Governor Brian Kemp and others have expressed concerns that she would not be able to handle a case that has the nation’s eyes on it.

When asked on Monday whether he felt confident in Gonzalez’s ability to "bring this case, this suspect, to justice," Kemp replied, "Well, she best do that."

According to the Athens Banner-Herald, State Rep Houston Gaines, who represents the district bordering the area where Riley was found dead, told reporters on Monday, "I have a real concern about her ability to handle this case. She’s not ready to handle this case."

According to 11 Alive, of the cases closed in 2023, Gonzales’ office chose not to prosecute 46 percent of them. And of the felonies charged, 130 of them were pleaded down to misdemeanors, giving most defendants probation.

Attorney Kevin Epps, who is currently suing Gonzales on behalf of an Athens bar owner, told WSB-TV, "Ms. Gonzalez has failed to achieve one guilty verdict in a jury trial involving any type of criminal case."

“We currently have a district attorney that has a complete inability to prosecute this case appropriately,” Epps said.

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