AUGUSTA, Ga. (WJBF) – The District Attorney says three recent convictions show how recent changes to the Major Crimes Division is helping to keep you safe.
On the heels of launching a program to help people clear their records and rehabilitate, the District Attorney’s office successfully convicted two murder cases and one child molestation case last week. Williams tells us other community programs are also in store.
In a news conference, Augusta District Attorney Jared Williams addressed how the Violent Crimes & Gangs Unit helped convict Artavius Ward and Keshun Carswell of a murder described as “settling a debt”.
The DA’s Special Victims Unit helped get 39-year-old Kendrick Evans sentenced to life in prison, plus 19 years. Evans preyed on a 12-year-old child.
“He would stoop so low as to pick her up from the school bus stop, do his filthy deeds and then drop her back off at her middle school,” said Williams.
Outside of the courtroom, Williams tells us his office is working on projects to help reduce the time between case inception and resolution. They are starting with changing the intake process so they can assign cases earlier.
“And, two- what I think is really going to make the difference- is we’re going to try and get into the 21st century,” said Williams. “We are going to be asking the county for a capital project that would bring on a digital evidence system.”
The new system would allow for a quicker transmission of evidence between the Sheriff’s and DA’s offices, shaving off a projected 9-12 months off the life of a case.
Additionally, Williams says they are recognizing where they can work beyond the criminal justice system.
“We need to realize when we need to lean on our community partners that a jail cell cannot fix,” said Williams. “You can’t lock up addiction.”
Williams also announced upcoming programming to target the adult offenders between the ages of 17 and 25. These specialized programs will address three main deficits the Major Crimes Division finds in their convictions.
“The idea is to not just to rack up convictions, but to actually change lives,” said Williams.
Since the creation of the DA’s Major Crimes Division in December 2021, Williams tells us they have increased their success rate at trial by more than 30 percent.
“But this past week was so emblematic, so perfect an example of the office we aspire to be and the office that this community deserves,” said Williams.
Last week, the DA’s office also launched Second Chance Desk for people to clear records and get back into the workforce. Williams says their new programs will be rolled out in the coming months and years.