Protesters decry littering sentence - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Protesters decry littering sentence

April 19, 2004

Dawson-- A man sentenced to 11 years behind bars for failing to clean up his lawn is back in court tonight.

Protesters have been outside the Municipal Court courtroom, upset over what they call an excessive sentence. Two weeks ago, Judge Henry Williams sentenced 50-year-old Willie McCray to 4,260 days in jail, or a fine of more than $7,000, all over a nuisance violation for a messy yard.

All of the junk has been cleaned up. Apparently his family removed appliances that were littering McCray's lawn shortly after he was jailed-- appliances he was fixing to earn some extra money.

After McCray was ordered repeatedly to clean up his yard. He disobeyed those orders, and two weeks ago, his 142-month probation was revoked and he was put behind bars. Protesters say they believe in the laws that govern Dawson, but also believe the punishment for breaking the law should be within reason.

"I think we should obey the law. I am 100 percent for the law. I would not want to live in Terrell County without the law. But I think the law should be just and fair," said NAACP Member Lucius Holloway.

Judge Williams ordered that McCray be let out of the jail last week because of health problems. He is scheduled to go before the judge sometime tonight.

The protesters are handing out leaflets entitled "A notice to persons appearing in Municipal Court". It reminds people that they have a right to trial by jury, therefore a person appearing before Judge Williams in Municipal Court can instead take his or her case to Superior Court.

The City Clerk says tonight is a light docket, but Willie McCray's case is near the end. The judge could reorder the cases though, but court has been known to last until after midnight, so it's hard to say when. We'll have more from the courtroom tonight at 11:00.


posted at 5:10PM by dave.miller@walb.com