An incident involving Rockdale County Magistrate Court Judge Phinia Aten has led the Rockdale County Sheriff's Office (RCSO) to begin a preliminary investigation into whether someone tried to slip a pill into the judge's drinking water.
Rockdale Sheriff Eric Levett told The News that the investigation is preliminary at this juncture to see if there is any merit to the complaints filed.
The Georgia Bureau of Investigations has been called for assistance on the investigation as of Friday afternoon, a GBI spokesperson confirmed.
The incident occurred Monday around 10:20 a.m. after first appearance hearings at the Rockdale County Jail. According to RCSO Deputy Grace Gilbert's report, Aten found a white pill that was "(disintegrating) rapidly" in her drinking water glass after she poured water from a bottle into the glass.
"The water started turning very cloudy," wrote Gilbert, who works out of the Magistrate Court office, in the report.
Gilbert then took the glass and poured the water out to retrieve the pill from the bottom of the glass. The pill was logged into evidence.
Aten wouldn't commit on the incident.
"I can't make a comment about that. There is an investigation taking place," Aten said. "I have to let the legal process play out."
According to the report, Aten did leave her glass unintended in the courtroom when she took a restroom break. The report also makes note that Gilbert, Magistrate Court Clerk Michelle Sinclair, Detention Deputy Stacy Armstead, Detention Deputy Michael Ramsey and Detention Deputy Michelle Ragan were present in the courtroom during the incident.
There were three or four inmates in the courtroom as well during Aten's absence, but they never approached the bench, according to the report.