The Georgia district attorney who withdrew from the Laken Riley murder case amid criticism of her office once dismissed charges against a child rapist who was later convicted of the attack.
Athens-Clarke County Democratic District Attorney Deborah Gonzalez announced she will appoint a special prosecutor to handle the murder case after several lawmakers and attorneys expressed concerns about her ability to prosecute the suspect given her office’s uncovered history. .
That history includes multiple violations of victims’ rights under Georgia’s Marsy’s Law, as in the case of child rapist Michael Lareco Daniel, 43, who on Thursday was convicted on all charges for raping a 14-year-old relative. years three years ago.
The jury took just 45 minutes to make their decision after the four-day trial, and a judge sentenced the rapist to life in prison plus 50 years.
However, last year, Gonzalez’s office unfairly dropped charges of rape, incest and child abuse against Daniel without notifying the victim and her family. His office cited insufficient evidence to prosecute Daniel.
Democratic Athens-Clarke County Prosecutor Deborah Gonzalez announced she will appoint a special prosecutor to handle the Laken Riley murder case following criticism of her office.
Last year, Gonzalez’s office unfairly dropped charges of rape, incest and child abuse against Michael Lareco Daniel, 43, who was convicted on all charges Thursday.
Georgia Governor Brian Kemp, as well as lawmakers and attorneys, had expressed concern that Gonzalez would not be able to handle the high-profile Laken Riley case.
During Marsy’s legal hearing, the victim’s mother said she reported to the district attorney’s office that Daniel continued to send her emails even after a court order not to contact the victim and her family. However, the district attorney never informed police of the violation of the order and dropped the charges after the jury was already assembled and the victim had expressed a desire to testify.
Gonzalez apologized after Western Circuit Superior Court Chief Judge Eric Norris determined his office violated Marsy’s Law.
After Detective Dara Deckert obtained additional warrants accusing Daniel of violating a family violence and aggravated stalking order, the Banner-Herald of Athens reported.
Daniel was also charged and this week found guilty of cruelty to children and assault against the same young woman and the same teenage girl after he dragged her and hit her on the head.
“Yesterday’s conviction of Michael Daniel finally brought justice to my client’s family that they were unable to achieve with Deborah Gonzalez,” attorney Kevin Epps told DailyMail.com on Friday.
“On behalf of my client, we would like to express how grateful we are to the authorities and Randy McGinley, the designated district attorney, for their efforts in achieving this conviction.”
Attorney Kevin Epps, who represented the mother in the victim’s rights case, told DailyMail.com that Daniel’s conviction shows that Gonzalez is not prepared to lead the district’s criminal proceedings.
A letter sent by High Court judges in October 2022 expressed concern over Assistant Das’ ‘effectiveness, preparation and procedural promptness’ in court
Epps added that Daniel’s conviction, as well as Gonzalez’s decision to withdraw from the Riley case, are additional evidence that Gonzalez is not prepared to lead the district’s criminal prosecutions.
He told DailyMail.com: ‘To date, González has not personally tried any case in which he has been able to obtain a conviction for any misdemeanor or serious offence.
‘(She) had three years to serve as district attorney. You are telling me that in your fourth year and now you have told everyone that you are not capable of doing this and that you need help from outside sources.
‘It is an extreme step to ask an outside source for help in prosecuting this case in our backyard. Our circuit people did not elect the district attorney to call a friend or a prosecutor.
Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp, as well as lawmakers and attorneys, had expressed concern that Gonzalez would not be able to handle the high-profile Laken Riley case before the prosecutor resigned.
A total of three victims have successfully filed cases against Gonzalez alleging that his office did not inform them before their attackers were offered plea deals or when the cases were dismissed, as required by law.
Meanwhile, a letter sent by High Court judges in October 2022 expressed concern over Assistant Das’ “effectiveness, preparedness and procedural availability” in court, citing a growing backlog of cases.
José Ibarra is accused of using an unknown object as a weapon to kill a 22-year-old Augusta University student
Riley’s body was found the same day on campus, in a wooded area near Herrick Lake that includes trails popular with runners and walkers.
González, for his part, has stated that criticism of his position is motivated by politics and aims to prevent him from implementing the progressive reforms he promoted, such as the elimination of cash bail.
But Epps told DailyMail.com that it was those progressive policies that led to Riley’s murder at the hands of an undocumented immigrant in the first place.
‘I have no doubt that the policies of the District Attorney’s office have led to an individual coming to our community and that escalated his previous criminal record to the point that he killed an innocent young girl who was doing nothing but running in our community. ‘ said the lawyer from Athens.
“When people say they have blood on their hands, there is blood on their policies because they have failed to effectively protect the very people they swore they would.”
DailyMail.com has contacted Gonzalez’s office for comment on this story.
Sheila Ross will now oversee the case against Ibarra, 26, a native of Venezuela, accused of using a mysterious object to beat Riley to death on the UGA campus.
Ibarra was arrested at his apartment complex near the running track near where Riley’s body was found last week.