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Posted: February 13, 2011 12:30 a.m.

Court Briefs

Charles Leslie Skrobot announced that he was ready for trial in Newton County Superior Court Thursday, on charges that he molested a 4-year-old girl late last year.

A former member of the Covington Redevelopment Authority and the owner of Town Center Breads, the 57-year-old has pleaded not guilty on the charge and has rejected any plea deals from the district attorney’s office in the case. Judge Horace Johnson Jr., questioned Skrobot’s attorney Michael Waters as to whether more time was needed to prepare for the trial and both Waters and the assistant district attorney in the case told the judge they felt they were both ready to proceed.

The trial will begin at a later date.

Additionally, the request for new trials by two people previously convicted of crimes have been denied by their respective judges.

Christina Renee Crowe was convicted in the 2008 death of 7-year-old Bobby Joe Couch in late 2009 after a bench trial in Johnson’s courtroom. Crowe was sentenced to serve at least 10 years of a 25-year prison term on charges of homicide by vehicle and DUI, among others. She was represented in her bench trial by attorneys from the public defenders office, Deepa Patel and circuit Public Defender Anthony Carter.

Her new attorney, John Strauss, brought the motion for a new trial before the judge in July 2010, citing ineffective assistance of council — essentially saying that her first set of attorney’s didn’t do a good enough job in her defense and that their poor performance led to the negative outcome of her bench trial. He also argued that the blood sample taken at the hospital, after the car accident that killed Couch and severely injured Crowe and her daughter as well as causing Couch’s younger brother to sustain minor injuries, was done so without just cause.

Johnson denied her request, saying "The court finds sufficient cause to authorize the collection of the blood sample collected by Sgt. Fred Moon. Furthermore, the court finds that the stipulated evidence presented at the bench trial was sufficient to authorize a verdict of guilty on all counts."

Convicted murderer Franklin Elliot Benson also went before Johnson in late 2010, requesting a new trial on the same count as Crowe, citing ineffective assistance by the attorney that represented him in his 2009 murder trial.

Benson, 50, was convicted of the murder and dismemberment of 49-year-old Leslyan Williams, whose body parts were found off Georgia Highway 212 on Oct. 30, 2007. Williams’ head and torso were never found.

Johnson denied his request as well stating that he believed Benson’s council did their job in the first trial.

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