A black man in Georgia who was found not guilty of armed robbery will still serve up to 10 years in jail for a prior offense.
The incident reportedly stems back to July 2014, when a convenience store in Rome, Georgia, was robbed. The clerk that was robbed had identified Ramad Chatman as a suspect, with the 24-year-old already serving a five-year probation term for breaking and entering an apartment to steal a television in 2012 when he was 19. In November 2015, after learning that police were looking for him and hoping to prove his innocence, Chatman turned himself in.
Ultimately, a lack of evidence from police officers investigating the incident (they never found a gun, stolen money, or any other evidence connecting Chatman to the crime), as well as inconsistent testimonies from the clerk, resulted in a jury ruling that Chatman was not guilty.
However, Judge John Niedrach, who presided over the case, disagreed with the verdict, ruling that it was likely Chatman committed the robbery. Because of this, Chatman’s probation was revoked, leading to him being re-sentenced for his original crime of stealing a TV and ordered to serve 10 years in jail, dated back to the day of the crime. Since that crime occurred on July 16, 2012, Chatman will now serve out his sentence until July 16, 2022.
The decision is upsetting not just because of the length of the sentence but because Chatman did everything asked of him while on probation including checking in, paying restitution, finishing community service, and holding a job.
“Someone is suffering the consequence [because] of this and it might be the wrong person,” Mark Issa, Chatman’s attorney, said. “In fact, 12 jurors did not believe it was the right person.”