Matthew Boynton: The evidence and investigation that led to his arrest

SHEILA A. MATHEWS :::

The July 29 arrest of former Griffin Police Department Officer Matthew Boynton stemmed from a theft report filed Dec. 19, 2016, by his former wife, Jessica Lester. The subsequent investigation was short-lived, with it having been deemed a “civil matter.” However, with the later discovery of previously-unknown evidence, it evolved into an Internal Affairs investigation resulting in two felony charges against the former law enforcement officer.

Having previously learned of the new evidence that was turned in to the Griffin Police Department May 11 and the Internal Affairs investigation that resulted, The GRIP on July 7 submitted an Open Records request for information in the case. At that time, the city of Griffin reported the investigation was ongoing and was not expected to be completed for another month to six weeks.

This is how the two cases unfolded.

On Dec. 19, 2016, Lester met with GPD Investigator Dexter McCune regarding property she alleged Boynton had stolen.

“Jessica advised me that around 4.15.2016, when she and her ex-husband, Matthew Boynton, separated, he took several things that belongs to her without her permission,” McCune reported. “She also stated that she just wanted her things back, so I informed her that I would do a report on the incident.”

McCune also had Lester write a victim’s statement.

“Matthew Boynton along with Lee Boynton, Josh Guthrie and Courtney Callaway moved all of my personal belongings from the residence. I was at Atlanta Medical Center for a month. During my stay is when my personal belongings were taken and Matthew Boynton (3842) refuses to give them back,” Lester stated.

The specific items Lester alleged Boynton had stolen included a Toshiba laptop valued at $500; clothes valued at $300; jewelry valued at $50; kitchen items valued at $500; and a retainer valued at $150.

As part of that case, Lt. Karen Yancy, who leads the GPD Criminal Investigation Division, spoke with Boynton and on Jan. 5, reported, “On Dec. 19, 2016, I spoke with Matthew Boynton about these items. He advised that he does not have any of the items listed in this report.”

Yancy also requested that Boynton write a statement pertaining to the allegation.

Boynton’s statement, dated Jan. 9, said, “I was advised to complete a statement on a previous date by Lt. Yancey. Jessica Lester-Boynton’s property has already previously been returned to her by my step dad (Charles McDaniel Jr.) shortly after Jessica got out of the hospital. The dining room table along with other items were picked up by Cathy Zellner for Jessica. The remaining items such as a hope chest, clothing and other miscellaneous items were returned to Jessica. I do not have any other items of Jessica’s.”

The next action noted in the case occurred nearly two months later.

“I attempted to contact Jessica Boynton via telephone to advise her that this is a civil matter. I left a message with the lady that answered for her to call me. Statements from Jessica Boynton and Matthew Boynton are logged into evidence,” said a statement written by Yancy March 13.

Fast forward to May 11, the day numerous items that reportedly belonged to Lester were turned in to the Griffin Police Department.

On May 11, Will Sanders met with Yancy and Sgt. John Hayes to turn in many articles of women’s clothing and other personal property including an orthodontic retainer.

According to Sanders, these items were obtained from a woman who contacted him and claimed to be Boynton’s girlfriend.

She alleged that many of Lester’s belongings remained in Boynton’s residence. She agreed to provide those items to Sanders, who then turned them in to the Griffin Police Department.

While GPD Chief Mike Yates said he is unable to release specific information due to the criminal nature of the case, he did confirm information The GRIP provided during a July 31 interview. However, he did not confirm that sequence.

“I’m not sure about that. That stuff apparently, from what we were able to discover through our investigation, went through several different peoples’ hands, which taints our chain of custody,” Yates said. “The chain of custody on that stuff is messed up. That’s what took so long to get it sorted out.”

Investigators confirmed at least some of this evidence did belong to Lester, but along with questions regarding the chain of custody was the issue of whether the belongings were personal or community property.

“There was a question of what was and was not community marital property, so that took some doing to sort that out, also,” Yates said, adding that many of the items reported as stolen – including the clothing, computer and household items – had been cited as community property during the couple’s divorce. “We had to establish a timeline for when that property was possessed – before the marriage or after it. Those properties obtained during the marriage would be considered community property.”

Ultimately, it came down to orthodontia – Lester’s retainer.

When asked to confirm that a July 26 appointment with Lester’s orthodontist was pivotal in the Internal Affairs case, Yates said it was.

“That was the best physical evidence that we had,” Yates said.

Because she owned the retainer prior to her marriage, it would not be considered community property.

“That’s what we had to establish,” Yates confirmed.

Once established as her personal belonging, this one piece of physical evidence contradicted Boynton’s January written “civil statement” in which he denied possessing any of Lester’s property.

“That was the subject of his charges – his statements and writings that we were able to prove were false,” Yates said.

Yates also said Boynton had provided a statement during the subsequent Internal Affairs investigation, acknowledging the items Sanders turned in were Lester’s belongings.

Based on that acknowledgement, The GRIP asked if it would not alleviate legal concerns pertaining to the chain of custody, and furthermore, why Boynton was not also charged with theft.

Yates said, “Yes, but that doesn’t overcome the civil side of it – whether it was or was not marital property, and even if it was, it would have been a misdemeanor as opposed to the two felonies.”

This all follows a Georgia Bureau of Investigation case that ultimately ruled Lester had attempted suicide in April 2016. The GRIP has reported extensively on seeming inconsistencies and irregularities in that GBI investigation.

When asked if Boynton’s arrest has led him to believe that case should be reopened, Yates said, “No. I’ve seen no evidence to indicate that would be necessary, but that does not preclude the GBI or anybody else from doing it if they choose. Emphasis on evidence. There’s a lot of speculation and a lot of theory, but evidence is not there to cause me to do that.”

When told The GRIP had received information that the Griffin Police Department had contact the GBI Friday morning prior to Boynton’s arrest, and asked the basis of that call, Yates said, “That would be just to let them know what we’re doing.”

He then said the GBI has not indicated to him that the investigation will be reopened.

Boynton was placed on administrative leave Thursday, July 28, and the Chief said his intent was to terminate the officer, but Boynton resigned before that process could be completed.

“(He resigned) about the time they brought him in. Somewhere in proximity to his arrest. I’m not sure if it was slightly before or slightly after. The way our charter is structured, termination takes two or three days. I don’t have the authority under our charter to hire or fire; it has to go to the city manager, so when you move toward a termination, it has to go through a process. A lot of times it’s two or three or more days,” Yates said. “A lot of times, what happens, especially if they’re involved in something very serious, they throw in the towel before it can go through the city’s process of termination.”

It is unknown what effect his arrest may have on Boynton’s criminal cases.

“It could have a negative effect on them, but those things have to be dealt with on a case by case basis. Most of the cases that he would have made or would be involved in would also have, or should have, body worn camera video, car video, things of that nature, so the fact that his statement to us was compromised would not necessarily taint everything else. It could, but it won’t necessarily do it,” Yates said.

When asked if Boynton had explained why he allegedly kept his ex-wife’s belongings, Yates said, “No. I haven’t listened to the actual investigation, but I don’t believe so, that he gave any explanation that made any sense.”

Boynton was released from the Spalding County Jail Friday night on a $4,806 cash bond.

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Comments

  1. corrupted cops, he and his grandfather! The police department should be ashamed of themselves for trying to cover this up!!!

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