Larry Gatlin

Larry Gatlin testifies in Jones County Circuit Court as Judge Dal Williamson looks on. (Photo by Mark Thornton)

 

Second psychological evaluation ordered

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An accused molester claimed that the video used to indict him was “manufactured” by authorities who are working to make the case against him.

Larry Gatlin, 48, made the accusation in Jones County Circuit Court during a hearing in which results of a psychological evaluation showed that he was competent to stand trial for the charge of molestation. He was set to be tried as a habitual offender.

“He knows the difference in right and wrong and he has the capacity to understand his Constitutional rights,” Judge Dal Williamson said, citing the report.

That’s when Gatlin said that the charges against him were “someone else’s molestation case.” The judge had Gatlin sworn in and put on the witness stand before he said anything else.

He said the Jones County Sheriff’s Department “used someone else’s video to get an indictment.” A young girl who lives near him and “looks identical” to his accuser was involved in a molestation case in 2012, Gatlin said. 

Children who are believed to be victims of sexual abuse are interviewed by specialists. The video of their description of what happened is often shown to a grand jury to decide whether to indict the suspect and to a jury to decide whether to convict the defendant.

Gatlin claimed that the video of the other girl, from eight years earlier, was used to get the charge and indictment against him.“It’s a different child in the forensic interview?” Judge Dal Williamson asked.

Gatlin said, “Yes.”

Williamson then asked, “It’s not the same child you’re accused of molesting?”

Gatlin said, “No, sir … that’s the first thing I said.”

The girl in the video that was used to get him indicted was “raised around me all (her) life” and he “knew she had a case pending.”

He went on to say that he saw a JCSD employee with another woman at his house one day before his arrest.

“I knew I was going to be railroaded for something,” Gatlin said. “I told my father they were planning something at the kitchen table.”

The JCSD employee he referred to worked in public relations, not in law enforcement.

Gatlin went on to say that the video was “manufactured” to change the name of the child and accused perpetrator in its references and labeling.

“Get the state Attorney General here to investigate,” Gatlin said, “because I know for a fact that wasn’t the same girl.”

Assistant District Attorney Kristen Martin said, “There’s no doubt on the state’s part” that the right accuser is shown on the video.

Public defender John Piazza, who is representing Gatlin, asked the judge to order a “more thorough” psychological exam, and that was ordered.

According to the arrest affidavit, the molestation occurred in August 2018 and was reported to the JCSD then. Gatlin and his accuser and one other person were at a residence working outside when he sent one inside to get some water.

His young accuser was “in the playroom when Larry grabbed her, held her arms” and she “could not get loose and (he) put his hands between (her) shorts and panties,” according to the affidavit from her interview with the child specialist. Gatlin then said “he would kill (the other person)” according to the affidavit.

Gatlin was charged with molesting-touching a child for lustful purposes and remains in the Jones County Adult Detention Center on $50,000 bond.

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