April 1, 2021 at 2:52 PM ET
CHATSWORTH – Mark Allen Newton (36) formerly of Crandall, Georgia was found guilty today by a Murray County Jury for the offenses of possession of methamphetamine with intent to distribute, possession of methamphetamine, possession of drug related objects and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon. Superior Court Judge William T. Boyett presided over the trial and set sentencing for May 5th. Newton has been in custody since his bondsman went off his bond on October 9, 2020 and will remain in custody through his sentencing date. Assistant District Attorney Ben Kenemer prosecuted the case with the assistance of Detective Justin McIntyre of the Murray County Sheriff’s Office. Assistant Public Defender Elise Williard represented Newton.
Newton was originally arrested on April 10, 2019 by the Murray County Sheriff’s Office in conjunction with the Georgia Department of Community Supervision and United States Marshall service who were looking for a missing child who was thought to possible be at Newton’s residence. When officers arrived and were allowed into the residence, they saw drugs and drug paraphernalia in plain sight and began a more comprehensive search which revealed approximately 8-9 grams (about a third of an ounce) of methamphetamine in Newton’s bedroom along with a Taurus 9mm handgun that had previously been reported stolen in Dalton. At the time of his arrest, Newton admitted that the drugs and gun were his, but at trial attempted to avoid responsibility by having his girlfriend, Kristy Evans, testify on his behalf and attempt to claim that the items were hers. Newton did not testify or call any other witnesses.
Newton has a separate pending case where he is charged with felony family violence battery against Evans and has a history of domestic violence convictions against other women. During her testimony, Evans claimed that she and Newton were no longer romantically involved and that she had not spoken to him for several months. After Evans testified, Judge Boyett stopped the trial for the day due the threat of severe weather Thursday afternoon. Newton and Evans were both in in the Murray County Jail prior to Newton’s trial with Evans being in custody on an unrelated probation violation. As such, they should not have been able to easily communicate, but convinced that they had, Detective McIntyre spent Thursday evening searching through their recorded jail phone calls. Detective McIntyre’s diligence paid off when he found where Newton and Evans had been using a third party to coordinate three-way calls between them and had conspired a mere five days earlier for Evans to take the blame for the drugs and the gun. On Friday morning, Judge Boyett agreed to reopen the evidence at the State’s request allowing Mr. Kenemer to recall Evans to the stand and confront her with the phone calls, some of which were played for the jury.
Newton has a significant criminal history with 20 prior arrests including four prior felony convictions for false imprisonment in 2005, family violence battery in 2008, terroristic threats in 2011 and another family violence battery in 2014. He was sentenced to prison on each of the prior felony charges and is facing up to 30 years without the possibility of parole on the methamphetamine charge in the current case plus up to five additional years on the firearm charge. No decision has been made as yet on whether either Newton or Evans will face any additional charges related to her lying under oath for him. The missing child which was the subject of the initial investigation was later found an a separate location based on information obtained at Newton’s residence.
Editor’s Note: The above was written by the office of Bert Poston, District Attorney for the Conasauga Judicial Circuit.