Responses to questions in Boynton investigation become heated

SHEILA A. MATHEWS :::

The September release of the GBI case file on its Jessica Boynton investigation raised questions as multiple inconsistencies were revealed. Efforts to obtain answers to those questions have been stymied by the refusal to respond to questions about those inconsistencies.

The GRIP first interviewed Griffin Police Department Chief Mike Yates in his office on Sept. 28. During the course of that interview, discrepancies were shown to Yates, who responded defensively in favor of Officer Matthew Boynton, Jessica Boynton’s estranged husband.

“How is that relevant as to whether or not he assaulted his wife?” Yates asked before adding, “My concern is whether or not he inflicted injury on his estranged wife, and the evidence clearly shows he did not.”

Yates also referenced the “alleged inconsistencies” by stating, “False statements? The GBI doesn’t seem to think so.”

In response to other questions presented by The GRIP – including time discrepancies and questions pertaining to the position of Jessica Boynton’s body when she was located in the master bedroom closet – Yates said, “You need to check your facts.”

He specifically referred to the victim’s physical position in that closet when stating, “That gives me great assurance that Matthew Boynton did not do this.”
However, the position Yates referenced was incorrect, with Jessica Boynton being located approximately 90 degrees to the left of his alleged position.

Following this interview, The GRIP did review significant portions of the GBI’s Boynton case file, verifying the inconsistencies presented to Yates on Sept. 28, and subsequently attempted to see Yates for another interview. When that effort failed, Yates was on Sept. 29 emailed with a request for a second interview.

Yates responded that same date, stating, “Send me your two questions via e-mail and I will answer them when I have the file to reference in front of me.”

The GRIP emailed questions – more than two – on Sept. 29, and received a reply from Yates Sept. 30.

“The Griffin Police Department, at my request, asked for a thorough and complete independent investigation into this matter by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation to insure thoroughness and impartiality. We received that service, in full, with multiple layers of review up to and including the Director of the GBI, the GBI Medical Examiner and various other EXPERTS,” Yates wrote. “I gave you my brief opinion on various aspects of the case based on memory and what I observed (informally). If you have further questions or concerns you should direct them to the State entity that actually conducted the investigation (GBI), not GPD or myself as this is precise the reason we asked for this independent investigation in the first place. I (we) take the results offered by the GBI seriously in the context of the ENTIRE investigation and thusly, along with the Director of the GBI and the District Attorney, accept the conclusion of the investigation as delivered in the investigative summary provided by the GBI. (sic all)”

The GRIP contacted the GBI on Sept. 30, and conducted a telephone interview with Assistant Special Agent in Charge Chris DeMarco, of the Region 2 Office.

That interview began with questions focusing on inconsistencies with the time line in the April 15 shooting incident of Jessica Boynton, which the GBI has now announced was an attempted suicide. Jessica Boynton disputes that finding.

After nearly 25 minutes, DeMarco suddenly changed the subject and began to question Sheila Mathews, publisher of The GRIP, about her professional work method.

DeMarco – And I want to ask you something else. Are you recording any of this?

Mathews – Am I recording this? Yes, sir, for an article, yes. Just to make sure I get quotes proper.

DeMarco – Well, listen, if you’re going to start recording these things, you need to let me know ahead of time before you do, before I start answering questions.

Mathews – Okay. Okay, I will definitely… (interrupted by DeMarco)

DeMarco – I mean, that’s the way we’re gonna play this game, Sheila. If that’s what you want to do, If you’re gonna start recording me and start quoting me, you’d better let me know ahead of time or we’re gonna have a problem.

Mathews – Okay, I wasn’t doing. Okay, I made it clear that I was calling and asking questions…(interrupted by DeMarco)

DeMarco – You did not make it clear you were recording this conversation, Sheila.

Mathews – The only reason I’m recording is for accuracy.

DeMarco did later apologize if he “sounded ugly or whatever.”

However, while transcribing the interview, Mathews noted the sudden and drastic change in the tone of the interview, and also noted the threat that if she did not comply with DeMarco’s demands pertaining to the manner in which she conducts interviews, they would “have a problem.”

Subsequent to that conversation, DeMarco first requested further questions be submitted via email. After responding to one request for information, DeMarco refused to answer further questions and referred The GRIP to the GBI Public Information Officer (PIO).

After numerous attempts to make contact with the PIO, the GBI’s Nelly Miles did respond.

The GRIP’s interview with DeMarco was detailed, including the threat “…or we’re gonna have a problem.”

“I will definitely discuss that with him. My understanding was the he was attempting to essentially answer the questions that you had that were follow up questions,” Miles said, apparently already aware the interview had taken place. “Just from my mental experience working in public affairs, I know sometimes when I’m speaking with reporters, there will be times where it’s a conversation just for background information, there will be conversations that are to be recorded. It just varies depending on the need, but yeah, I’ll definitely talk to him about that because the GBI, we work to be extremely transparent.”

Mathews responded that yes, the interview initially flowed as numerous others with DeMarco had in the past, until he became agitated about the recording, which The GRIP maintains is not only legal, but an industry standard in print journalism.

“I would like some clarity – what he meant by that,” Mathews stated.

Miles followed up to that request the next day.

“Essentially, Agent DeMarco, he was attempting to assist you with your questions that you had regarding the case. He had, of course, done that in the past, and in this instance, he was trying to assist you, so, I mean, if there are any concerns on your end about the way that he treated you, and if you have a complaint, my suggestion would be that you make a formal complaint with our Office of Professional Standards,” she said.

“So, basically, my request for just clarification of what he meant by what he said, there is no clarification if I’m understanding what you’re saying,” Mathews responded.

“Well, what I’m saying is that from discussing with him, discussing with him his questions and the questions that you had and the conversation, what I’m saying is that he was attempting to assist you. So, in terms of clarification, he apologized during the conversation – as you had indicated – so, during the entire course of the conversation, he was attempting to assist you with the questions that you had,” Miles stated, later adding, “That was the whole basis behind the conversation. You had questions. He was trying to assist you.”

When asked for clarification if he was attempting to assist when he made statements completely unrelated to the subject of the interview, Miles said, “And that’s why I say – I’m telling you – his goal, what he was trying to do, is he was trying to assist you, so, if that is what happened and your perspective is that he was agitated and he made these statements that were unrelated, then my suggestion to you is to file a complaint. That way, internally, it can actually be dealt with. Outside of that, I honestly don’t have anything to add to that. I know this is what he was attempting to do, and from your perspective, if that’s not what you got out of it, then that’s the way that we would handle it. That’s the way we handle it here is to go ahead and address the complaint through an Internal Affairs investigation.”

Mathews responded by saying, “Okay. If that’s necessary. I would personally rather just, you know, handle it by trying to get clarification by what was meant by a certain statement, but if it needs to be a formal complaint, that can certainly be done. It seems unfortunate that it would be necessary, but if that’s your recommendation, I appreciate it.”

Miles concluded the conversation by saying, “I mean, yeah, that would be the recommendation because, at this point since I wasn’t a witness to the conversation and for me to go back and say what did you mean, and you all probably had a lengthy conversation. I’m unable to pick apart one part of it and speak for him…at this point, to go back and try to explain that particular part, the route that is recommended is to file a formal complaint with our Office of Professional Standards.”

The GRIP will this week be following Miles’ suggestion and contacting the Georgia Bureau of Investigation Office of Professional Standards.

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