City commissioner Olivia Pearson’s second felony voter fraud trial will take place in Wayne County. Superior Court Judge Andy Spivey, who presided over the first trial and will also hear the second trial, signed the change of venue order last week. The date of the trial has yet to be determined.
In March of last year, Pearson was tried on the same charges; however, Judge Spivey declared a mistrial after jurors could not reach a verdict. The jury deadlocked at 11-1. Pearson has a new legal team and her second trial was supposed to begin in Douglas in October. However, her attorneys asked for a continuance and, eventually, a change of venue. The district attorney’s office didn’t contest the change of venue request.
Commissioner Pearson's charges arose from an incident on October 15, 2012; during early voting in the 2012 election, Commissioner Pearson allegedly improperly assisted Diewanna Robinson in casting her ballot. Georgia law allows assistance only to voters who are illiterate or disabled. Forms available at polling stations require that the one assisting sign an oath to that effect. Tendered into evidence was a form for Diewanna Robinson bearing Commissioner Pearson's signature with the box next to “illiterate” checked.
The investigation that led to charges against Pearson also resulted in charges for three other Coffee County residents who all pled guilty to misdemeanor charges. Pearson is the only one of the four who decided to roll the dice and go to trial on the original charges. If convicted, Pearson would have to vacate her city seat on the city commission.
Bradley Bennett contributed to this story.
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