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Missing/Corrupted evidence! Where is yours being stored?

Bibb County investigators lost and damaged evidence in Macon murder case, judge says

October 3rd, 2023

A superior court judge ruled Tuesday that the Bibb County district attorney's office and sheriff's office mishandled evidence and acted in bad faith in a murder case set to go to trial this month.

Investigators lost text messages and a doorbell video, key evidence in the murder case against Jordan Mullis, one of three defendants charged in a 2021 Lake Wildwood killing, according to court testimony.

Investigators transferred the video to an external hard drive that was later physically damaged, which corrupted the video, DA Anita Howard said following Tuesday's hearing.

A phone containing texts between Mullis and the man he's accused of killing, Montaveous Raines Jr., was destroyed, according to court testimony.

"It was a mismanagement, I think there could have been better communication… the evidence was obtained in a proper manner. It was very clear to me that the investigators cared about this case," Howard said. "It's not a lack of caring… it was just making sure that evidence is in one place."

The state, led by attorney Dawn Baskin, initially claimed they did not have the phone or the video at any point. Video later showed, though, that a sheriff's office investigator did take Mullis' phone during an interrogation.

Other cell phone evidence was unusable as well. When defense counsel requested the evidence, the cell phone data sent by the DA's office was corrupted.

"Repeatedly, (Baskin's) credibility has been undermined and she's come back and had to beg the pardon of the court," Judge Jeffery Monroe said in the hearing. "'Judge, there's not any Ring camera video.' Oops, there is video. 'Judge, we don't have Mr. Mullis' phone.' Oops, we do have his phone. And again and again."

Monroe ruled the DA's office had acted in bad faith because they had been asked several times to turn over all evidence and because the evidence was lost. He ordered the sheriff's office to gather all digital evidence in Bibb County court cases and move it to one location.

"That is the beginning of it and that is the end of it," Monroe said. "Evidence should live all in one place, such that it makes the lives of your staff easier."

Monroe made clear that the DA's office and sheriff's office were one entity and were both responsible for the missing evidence and for not telling the court about it.

"We have been in conversation with the sheriff's office about how our teams can collectively work together to ensure what happened today does not happen," Howard said following the hearing. "We'll be meeting here in the future to outline that process."

The evidence was brought into question when Mullis and his attorneys requested that the case be dismissed because prosecutors did not turn over all the files. Monroe denied Mullis' motion to dismiss the indictment, but left open the opportunity for Mullis to file other motions related to the case's evidence.

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