Trial of Albany Police Officer begins - WALB.com, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

Trial of Albany Police Officer begins

July 14, 2004

Albany -- An Albany police officer went on trial Wednesday for stealing a crash victim's wallet.

 Prosecutors say Patrol Officer James Thomas took 2,200 dollars from a man who was seriously injured in an April motorcycle crash. A jury, including 10 women, was selected to hear James Thomas' case.

Prosecutors says the 32-year-old Albany officer stole James Burgess' wallet while he was fighting for his life following a motorcycle crash. Chief Assistant District Attorney Greg Edwards said "he took the risk, thinking that James Burgess wasn't going to make it. Thought he wasn't going to make it. So he took the money."

Thomas was one of the first police officers on the scene and had Burgess' drivers license while filling out the accident report. An enlargement taken from WALB News Ten videotape of the crash was shown to the jury, prosecutors saying that is Burgess' wallet in his hand.

In opening statements prosecutors say that Officer Thomas' testimony about the wallet kept changing during the investigation.

Defense lawyers pushed for the quick trial date so that Officer Thomas can clear his name and return to work. Attorney Rick Collum said "As you saw in court today the government wanted a continuance and the judge denied it. Because we need to get this thing tried and get it over with. My client is innocent and hopefully will be found not guilty today."

Testimony in the trial is expected to take about two days, and Officer Thomas is expected to testify."

James Burgess is still hospitalized with several broken bones from the motorcycle crash. His taped testimony was played on videotape in the trial.

posted at 3:53 PM by jimw@walb.com

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