When blue-collar Joe Sixpack stumbles and gets arrested by the cops, he pretty much resigns himself to getting whats coming in court. But if a rich doctor gets in trouble, he can just skate away from any real consequences.
Such cynical, anecdotal stuff isnt really true, is it? Its hard to tell, based on one doctors amazing escapes from local justice.
According to a Columbia County Sheriffs Office report, Dr. Jerry Jackson Lee II beat the daylights out of his wife Dec. 7, 2001. He even dragged her around the house by her hair and whacked her with a wooden paddle, according to court testimony from a Columbia County domestic violence investigator.
Kandace Lee was in bad shape when she finally called the cops to rescue her. While investigators surveyed her bodys roadmap of knots, cuts and bruises, she spilled a tale of not just one night of abuse, but days of what charitably could be called torture - including showing police a circular bruise on her chest that she said came when her husband poked a gun barrel to her and threatened to kill her.
Guns? Oh, there were plenty of guns. She told deputies the obstetrician/gynecologist had a cache of nearly 100 weapons in their Evans home, and investigators seized an illegal, fully automatic rifle.
Columbia County deputies took Lee to jail on a felony assault charge, and he soon was released on bail. And thats when the reconciliation, and Lees improbable defense, began.
Its not uncommon in domestic violence cases for the beaten spouse to have second thoughts after the swelling goes down and hubby becomes a bundle of sweetness and smiles. In this case, Mrs. Lee recanted her allegations shortly after Dr. Lees release. When she then refused to testify in his trial last September, Lee got just a simple battery conviction and a slap on the wrist after a non-jury trial before Judge Carlisle Overstreet.
Around that same time, The News-Times found Lee had abruptly closed a central Georgia practice several months earlier under a cloud of malpractice lawsuits, and was denied privileges at Doctors Hospital. With his local prosecution over, Lee also closed up his new Evans practice and left town.
At last word, Lee was planning to start over in Mississippi or some other faraway state. But there was one more hurdle: He wouldnt be able to practice medicine if he was convicted in a separate trial of possessing the machine gun, a felony. Though his wife again refused to testify, Lee clearly owned the gun and knew it was illegal.
Open and shut case?
Well, not exactly. After another non-jury trial, Superior Court Senior Judge Bernard J. Mulherin Sr. acquitted Lee last week. Mulherin admitted he took into account that a conviction would end Lees livelihood. Oh, sure, Mulherin said all the right things about having reasonable doubt, too. But would Mulherin have been as concerned about Lee continuing to make a living if he were, say, a truck driver or a waitress instead of a doctor?
If so, heres a question for Judge Mulherin: If Dr. Lee is innocent, can he have his machine gun back?
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