The Tifton Gazette



ASHBURN - Turner County School Superintendent Jimmy Alberson will go on trial next week on assault charges, District Attorney Paul Bowden said Tuesday.

Alberson, accused of threatening a Department of Transportation worker with a gun as the man directed traffic in Turner County, is also under investigation by the state Professional Standards Commission, the body in charge of disciplinary action against teachers and school administrators.

A previous trial on the same charges - four counts of aggravated assault and terroristic threats - ended with dismissal of the entire jury pool summoned for the week after Turner County Commissioner Ben Walker contacted jurors about the case.

Walker later pleaded guilty to jury tampering charges and one count of terroristic threats stemming from an unrelated bomb threat he called in to the Turner County High School lunchroom. He was sentenced to five years on each of four counts, to run consecutively, and was allowed to serve all but six months and 10 days of the sentence on probation. He was banished from the Tift Judicial Circuit as a condition of probation.

"As far as I know right now, the jury selection for the case will begin at 9 a.m. Monday," Bowden said. "The jury selection will take a while on this case. Last time, it took a week."

Georgia DOT employee Eddie Tukes Sr. took warrants against Alberson in February 1999. Tukes said then that he was directing traffic on Georgia Highway 32 when Ashburn resident Otis Odum passed by, returning a short time later with Alberson. Tukes, who is black, said Alberson pointed a gun at his head and threatened to "blow his brains out."

The incident strained racial relations in Ashburn, leading to a protest march and threatened boycotts of schools and businesses. Turner school board members declined to suspend Alberson without a guilty verdict.



To contact city editor Florence Rankin or reporter Angie Thompson, call 382-4321.



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