Man faces charges for flooding courthouse - WALB.com, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

Man faces charges for flooding courthouse

Posted May 26, at 4:52 pm

Bainbridge- A Decatur County man could face up to 15 years in prison for flooding the courthouse in Bainbridge. He was in a holding cell awaiting trial when he broke-off an emergency sprinkler system.

     Industrial strength fans are drying out the courthouse. "Apparently the individual responsible was climbing in his cell, got bored and knocked the sprinkler down," says District Attorney Joe Mulholland.

     Dennis Barnes is facing a preliminary charge of interference with government property. But that may not be the end for him. He could face up to 15 years in prison after a final decision is made. "We'll probably look at some other charges such as criminal damage to property in the first degree," says Mulholland.

     The tax assessors office was damaged the most. Thousands of dollars in brand new computer equipment was destroyed, something that led to the charges Barnes is facing. "Whenever the sprinkler heads are released, the fire department has to come and actually shut them down. You can't just shut off the water," says Mulholland.

     Most records have been salvaged but some were beyond saving. The same goes for furniture, flooring, carpeting, and ceilings. It's too early to tell how much the damage will cost. "We've got the insurance company coming over and they're going to assess that," says Mulholland.

     Despite the records that were lost and the evacuation that followed, the history behind Decatur's courthouse was not erased. "The only thing that was lucky about this whole incident is a historic courtroom was not damaged," says Mulholland. It will be back in session after the holiday weekend.

     Dennis Barnes was originally in city court on misdemeanor charges. But now he may get a trip to the state pen.

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