Jury selected for Sheriff Peterson, Darrell Watson - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Jury selected for Sheriff Peterson, Darrell Watson

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By Alicia Eakin - bio | email

September 9, 2008

VALDOSTA, GA (WALB) - Jury selection began Monday in the federal trials of a South Georgia Sheriff and a former game warden.

Clinch County Sheriff Winston Peterson will be tried this week and the trial for Darrell Watson will begin immediately after. Both face federal perjury and obstruction charges.

Its been a long year for Clinch County Sheriff Winston Peterson. He was indicted in November on extortion, forced labor, obstruction and perjury charges.

In the whirlwind of motions that followed, some charges were dropped and more tacked on. He now faces trial for perjury and two counts obstruction of justice.

Prosecutors say Peterson tipped off the former Chief Judge of the Alapaha Judicial Circuit Brooks Blitch to the identity of an FBI informant, then lied about it to investigators and the grand jury.

"We are going to start trial Tuesday.  There are still some pre-trial motions but I expect trial to be underway fairly early Tuesday," says Alex Zipperer, an attorney for Peterson.

When Peterson's trial concludes, the trial for former game warden Darrell Watson will begin.

Watson was indicted in June for perjury and obstruction.

He's accused of asking Blitch to fix a DUI case for the son of a family friend.  But the defense hopes it never makes it to court.

"We filed a motion to dismiss because on Friday the 25th, ten days ago, the Government filed an entirely different superseding indictment," say Watson's attorney Converse Bright.  "But Watson wants to go ahead and face this guy and get it behind him.  We feel like they are going to find him not guilty and he wants to get it taken care of."

Opening statements for Peterson's trial will begin Tuesday morning at 10:00.  Watson's trial will begin 9:00 AM on September 15th.

Watson and Sheriff Peterson are two of 12 officials indicted after a federal probe into corruption in the Alapaha Judicial Circuit.

Two others resigned to avoid prosecution.

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