Cochran Guilty on Six Counts

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ROME, GA. (WDEF-TV and Dalton Daily Citizen Staff)

Former Murray County chief magistrate judge Bryant Cochran has been found guilty on all six criminal counts in a federal court in Rome.

Sentencing has been set for Feb. 20, 2015.

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The jury deliberated for two hours on Wednesday and about three and a half hours today.

Prosecutors said Cochran orchestrated a conspiracy to plant drugs on the car of a woman who accused him of sexually propositioning her. He was also accused of sexually assaulting a county employee, illegally searching cellphones of a county employee and tampering with a witness.

Cochran was indicted on charges of conspiracy against rights, three counts of deprivation of rights under color of law, conspiracy to distribute a controlled substance and tampering with a witness.

Cochran did not testify during the trial, which began on Dec. 2.

In his closing argument on Wednesday, Assistant U.S. Attorney Bill McKinnon Jr. said Cochran used his position as chief magistrate judge to satisfy his own needs, abusing his power. McKinnon created a timeline for the jury that included a narrative of events leading up to the arrest of Angela Garmley, the woman who made the accusations against Cochran, on Aug. 14, 2012, and also actions McKinnon said were undertaken by Cochran to try to cover up his role in the arrest.

Garmley was pulled over on Aug. 14, 2012, by then-Murray County Sheriff’s Office deputy Joshua Greeson. Then-captain Mike Henderson, Cochran’s cousin, responded, and the two found five packets of meth in a metal tin under Garmley’s car after Henderson received a call from Cochran saying there would be meth there, according to prosecutors. The Georgia Bureau of Investigation determined the drugs were planted. Charges against Garmley were dropped and Greeson and Henderson were fired. Both eventually pleaded guilty to obstruction of justice after admitting to lying to GBI agents about the drug tip.