Spillers found guilty on two felony counts - WALB.com, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

Spillers found guilty on two felony counts

May 18, 2006

Leesburg- Fired deputy Donnie Spillers is found guilty on two felony counts, but he won't serve any jail time. Thursday evening, a Lee County jury found Spillers not guilty of involuntary manslaughter and evidence tampering, but they convicted him of making false statements and violating his oath of office. The judge sentenced him to five years probation. The former Lee County Sheriff's deputy was on trial for the shooting death of 17 year old Wesley Beaver in February of 2005.

Judge Rucker Smith read the charges, "As to count one involuntary manslaughter, we the jury find the defendant not guilty."

The verdict announced just before 6:15 p.m., got mixed reaction.

"It is kind of bizarre, we got acquittals on two misdemeanors and convictions on two felonies, but the truth is the real emotion went with the misdemeanors," said Pete Donaldson, Spiller's Defense Attorney.

"And they found him guilty of the two felonies, I mean I don't want, that's what seems to be forgotten that what he got acquitted of is two misdemeanors, what he was convicted of is two felonies," said Cecelia Cooper, District Attorney.

The judge went immediately into sentencing, the prosecution was let down when a request for five years jail time was denied.

"Is disappointing, is extremely disappointing, he was convicted of lying in the investigation of a death of another, he's a law enforcement officer," said Cooper.

Instead the judge agreed with the defense, granting five years probation, concurrent on each count and a total of 400 hours of community service.

"Donnie's sentenced himself, he's living a pretty rough life right now with his own feeling, hopefully this gives him an opportunity to get back," said Donaldson.

Spillers was also granted first offender status, meaning if he completes his probation, he will no longer be a convicted felon, but he could never regain his post rating to become a police officer, and his defense attorney said he never wants to pick up a gun again.

Donnie Spillers must report to the probation office before the close of business Monday.

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