A Wayne County jury deliberated about half an hour Thursday night before finding Douglas City Commissioner Olivia Pearson not guilty on one count of false swearing, a felony. The charge stemmed from an investigation into alleged voter fraud during the 2012 election. Initially charged with four counts in 2016 – two counts each of false swearing and improper assistance in casting a ballot – all charges were eventually dismissed except for one count of false swearing.
In the fall, Commissioner Pearson’s legal team requested a change of venue for this, the second trial she faced on the same charge. Last year, Commissioner Pearson’s first trial ended in a hung jury. For her second trial, she recruited a new legal team that didn’t feel as though she would get a fair trial in Coffee County.
Attorneys selected the jury, which was predominantly white and female, Thursday morning. Opening arguments began immediately after the jury selection. The trial ended about 6 p.m. the same day. Pearson’s legal team utilized a different strategy in the second trial; this time, her attorneys attempted to convince the jury that Pearson didn’t knowingly and willingly swear falsely. In another deviation from the first trial, Pearson did not testify. The new approach worked; Commissioner Pearson walked away from her two-year ordeal without a conviction.
Three other Coffee County citizens were also charged with Pearson. However, all three pleaded guilty to misdemeanors.
Tiana Foster contributed to this report.
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