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Brunswick city judge goes on trial for aggressive driving

Andrew Lakin is accused of following a federal probation office worker 8 miles through Brunswick

Posted: February 3, 2014 - 7:50pm

BRUNSWICK | A woman testified Monday in State Court that Brunswick municipal Judge Andrew Lakin followed her vehicle so closely and aggressively in August 2012 that she was “terrified for my life.”

Lakin, who is also the Glynn County school board’s lawyer, is on trial on an aggressive driving charge, which under Georgia law is a high and aggravated misdemeanor that carries stiffer penalties.

Kimberly Williams testified that she was on her way to work as a clerk in the federal probation office in Brunswick on Aug. 24, 2012, when Lakin began tailing her vehicle, When she tried to move to the left lane to make room for merging traffic on U.S. 341 north of Brunswick a pearl white Cadillac that Lakin was driving came up so fast she had to get back into her lane, Williams testified.

As she drove her Honda Pilot with traffic, she got in front of Lakin’s Cadillac once again and was driving through a school zone when Lakin came up behind her rapidly, Williams testified.

She accelerated to put some space between their vehicles but any maneuver she made in traffic, Lakin copied it, and got up beside her Pilot twice, she testified.

That went on for about eight miles as she drove past her workplace and make a circuitous route through town until Brunswick police offices stopped Lakin, witnesses said.

Her husband, Tim Williams, a Glynn County police officer, testified he had radioed Brunswick police for help after his wife called and said she was being followed.

“I recognized a tone of her voice I’d never heard before,’’ he testified.

Kimberly Williams testified that Lakin got within five feet of her bumper, and a Brunswick police officer testified he was within half a car length albeit on a city street with a 25 mph limit.

Once Brunswick police officers stopped Lakin, Williams testified, she drove around the corner and stopped to talk with the officers. Within 30 seconds, Lakin drove up, stopped his car and shouted to the officer, “You tell her all I wanted to do was to tell her to slow down,’’ she testified.

“I was crying and shaking. I was panicked,’’ Williams testified.

She also testified the Brunswick officers let Lakin go without even asking for his driver’s license.

Asked what recourse she had with the city, Williams testified, “I had none. They didn’t care about me.”

Brunswick police Cpl. Austin Armstrong said he wanted to initiate an investigation of the incident but his sergeant ordered him not to.

During cross examination from Thomas Taggart, a Savannah lawyer representing Lakin at no charge, Williams acknowledged an exchange of emails with Glynn County Police Chief Matt Doering.

She sent her first email about five days after the incident after Doering initiated an investigation after learning Brunswick police weren’t investigating it.

Brunswick police also did not refer the incident to another agency.

Using Williams’ cell phone records — she had conversations with her cousin and her husband as she drove — Taggart tried to show discrepancies between the times on the phone records and on incident reports. But officers and Williams all said the times in the reports were estimates.

The four-woman, two-man jury saw a series of still photographs from a store security video camera that shows the Cadillac closing quickly on Williams’ Pilot.

In his opening statement, Taggart told the jury that Lakin was only following Williams because she cut him off in traffic nearly hitting his car and then had sped through a school zone.

A couple of officers testified that Lakin’s “pet peeve” is speeding in school zones and that he often lectures offenders in court and never gives them leniency.

Because all the Glynn County judges disqualified themselves from hearing the case, Bulloch County State Court Judge Gary Mikell was appointed to conduct the trial.

McIntosh County State Court Solicitor Richard Braun Jr. was appointed to prosecute the case. He rested his case Monday just after 6 p.m. and the defense will present its case Tuesday.

Terry Dickson: (912) 264-0405

 
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