David Gibson’s friends, family speak out at plea hearing; judge expounds on sentence

David Gibson plea

David Gibson, formerly the captain of the Spalding County Sheriff’s Office, has plead guilty to two counts of violating his oath of office, and was sentenced to 10 years, with three to serve in prison. Photo credit: Sheila Mathews

SHEILA A. MATHEWS :::

David Gibson, formerly of the Spalding County Sheriff’s Office, has plead guilty to two felony counts of violating his oath of office.

Gibson on Thursday afternoon appeared before Superior Court Judge Robert M. Crawford and entered a blind plea, which means his guilty plea was entered without prior knowledge of the sentence Crawford would impose.

Gibson’s guilty pleas were related to the additional charges of aggravated assault and simple battery. However, those underlying charges were dismissed. Also dismissed were charges including two counts of aggravated sexual battery, one count of public indecency, one count of sexual battery and six additional counts of violation of oath by a public officer related to other alleged criminal and other acts.

Prior to sentencing, four people testified on Gibson’s behalf.

DeeDee Criswell testified about her decades-long friendship with Gibson.

“I have known David since the early ’70s. He’s not like a friend; he’s more like my brother,” she said, describing how he had cared for her family when her sister died five years ago and when her mother suffered a stroke.

DeeDee Criswell said Gibson drove to her mother’s home, picked her up and physically carried her to his car before driving her to Emory Hospital.

“He’s been with me the entire time of my mama’s illness,” she said, adding that Gibson has also developed a close relationship with her father.

Mike Criswell said he has known Gibson since he worked at Griffin Skate Inn as a teenager. He went on to describe Gibson as “perhaps the best EMT Spalding County has ever had.”

“I’ve watched David save people’s lives. I’ve watched him put his life on the line for others,” Mike Criswell said. “David is always there and his given his life to this county.”

Next to appear was Rita Ware, who said Gibson calls her by the nickname “Mom.”

“He’s never been anything but respectful to me,” Ware said. “I’m divorced and I don’t know what I’d do without David. I honestly don’t know what I’d do without him, but his wife – I’m concerned about her. I know he’s a good person and I love him very much.”

Jean Gibson was the final witness to address the court. Reading from a prepared statement, Jean Gibson spoke of her nearly 34-year relationship with David Gibson, who she described as a devoted family man sometimes worked as many as five jobs at once to support their family. The said this experience has “sucked the life out of him.”

“He has never held a grudge or hate for anyone. We have suffered through this,” she said. “He has been unemployed for two years.”

She went on to describe how her David Gibson assist her with her business of caring for special needs adults.

“Remember, we’re servants,” she said, referring to her husband as the “sole financial overseer” of her business.

She then addressed the issue of the pending sentence, saying, “I am asking you to please not send my husband away.”

Jean Gibson then lamented, “My husband was crucified and stoned right before my eyes by the media. Every good man deserves a second chance. Maybe then there’d be more of them.”

David Gibson’s defense attorney, Larkin Lee, said, “I always knew him to be professional, sometimes overly so with being respectful to other people.”

Lee described his client as “the sole support for his wife and her business,” and requested the court sentence David Gibson to probation with no time to serve in prison.

While Griffin Judicial Circuit District Attorney Ben Coker did not present any victim impact statements to the court, he did make a closing statement.

“For over a decade of his employment at the Spalding County Sheriff’s Office, he used his authority to torment employees of that Sheriff’s Office,” Coker said, speaking of years of incidents. “To hear that the life has been sucked out of him? Just take a look at his victims and see what’s been done to them. They’re broken.”

Coker requested a sentence of 10 years, with five to be served in prison. He also opposed David Gibson being granted First Offender status.

Lee addressed the court regarding Kay Purdue, the victim of Gibson’s aggravated assault. According to Lee – and confirmed by Coker – Purdue was opposed to a lengthy prison sentence.

“Her words were she did not want him to rot in prison and she would be fine with incarceration of six months,” Coker said, adding that is not the position of the State.

On the first count of violation of his oath of office related to an aggravated assault committed against Kay Perdue, David Gibson was sentenced to five years, with three to serve in prison followed by two years probation.

On the second count, he was sentenced to five years, all to be served on probation, consecutively with his first sentence.

Altogether, David Gibson will serve three years to the door – which means he will not be released from prison earlier than three years – followed by seven years on probation. He must also surrender his law enforcement certification; serve 800 hours community service; and pay a $2,500 fine.

Crawford also granted the defense request and sentenced Gibson to First Offender status.

Crawford explained the reasoning behind his sentence.

“I know that’s not what the State asked for and it’s not what the defense asked for,” Crawford said.

Regarding the First Offender status, Crawford said, “If you violate probation, we start over. That means you can be completely re-sentenced to the maximum sentence. It can be good, but if you violate it, it can be very ugly. The good is that if you complete it, your record won’t reflect it.”
Crawford then explained that had he not granted First Offender status, Gibson would be unable to continue in his marriage and business relationship with Jean Gibson.

Prior to his May 2015 resignation in lieu of termination, Gibson was a 27-year veteran of the Spalding County Sheriff’s Office.

In May 2015, Gibson, who formerly served as captain of the SCSO Uniform Patrol Division, retired in lieu of termination. This followed an internal investigation conducted by Capt. Ronald Brainard, of the Houston County Sheriff’s Office.

Scott Ballard, who then served as district attorney of the Griffin Judicial Circuit, in August requested the Georgia Bureau of Investigation conduct a criminal investigation.

Gibson was on Sept. 10, 2015, arrested by the GBI on warrants obtained by Special Agent Jared Coleman. At that time, Gibson was charged with aggravated assault, two counts of aggravated sexual battery, sexual battery, two counts of simple battery, influencing a witness, public indecency and violating his oath of office.

Just over one year later, on Sept. 15, 2016, a presentment to a Spalding County grand jury resulted in Gibson being indicted on 14 charges including aggravated assault, two counts of aggravated sexual battery, sexual battery, simple battery, public indecency and violation of his oath of office. The remainder were additional counts of violation of his oath of office, which were related to the previous seven criminal charges.

Six federal civil rights lawsuits have been filed against Gibson, former Spalding County Sheriff Wendell Beam, the Spalding County Sheriff’s Office and Spalding County. Each plaintiff is seeking $2 million in damages.

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Comments

  1. He should have stood trial on all 14 count.. He is a sexual predator that was basically slapped on the hand. Trial should have been out of town. The criswells own Firehouse Subs where I will never eat at again. They along with Rita Ware owner of Ritas pawn and Jwelery aided the court system in putting a sexual predator back on the streets in 3 short years. This is a travesty of justice

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