A man accused of drugging, robbing and burning the genitals of a gay Atlanta man was denied bond on Thursday after a contentious court hearing and will remain in jail for at least four more weeks.
Fulton Superior Court Judge Craig Schwall asked to see additional evidence in the case before deciding whether to set bond for Lenny Evert Jones, who has remained jailed since his Jan. 29 arrest. Jones is charged with aggravated assault, aggravated battery and robbery by force for allegedly robbing and assaulting Lance Elliott on Aug. 31.
Robin Daitch, a Fulton senior assistant district attorney, argued that Jones (photo) should remain jailed.
“Due to the severity of the case, that the defendant is a risk to the community, he should be given no change in bond status,” Daitch said.
Prosecutors said that Elliott and Jones met at Burkhart’s and moved to the Artmore Hotel on West Peachtree Street. The assault allegedly took place inside a room at the hotel.
“When they got to the hotel, the defendant made the victim a drink, a drink which caused him to black out. The victim woke up the next day to discover that he was assaulted and robbed,” Daitch said.
Daitch said Jones struck Elliott in the head, burned his penis with a lit cigarette and stole his wallet and jewelry. Elliott posted about the incident on Facebook and filed a police report about a week later.
Jones later offered to give Elliott’s Gucci wallet to a friend, who had read Elliott’s account of the incident, Daitch said. He came forward to help identify Jones, who was profiled as 11Alive’s “Fugitive of the Week” in January and, days later, was arrested by the U.S. Marshal’s Southeast Regional Fugitive Task Force while he was driving with his mother in Stockbridge.
“We would not be here today if it were not for the victim’s proactive approach,” Daitch said.
'No proof of a cigarette burn'
Amanda Grantham, a staff attorney with the Fulton Public Defender’s office, argued that Elliott was drunk and questioned the severity of the burn and why he waited a week to report the incident to police. She said this is the first felony arrest for Jones.
“Lenny Jones is an upstanding member of the community,” Grantham said. “He has no criminal history. He has never been arrested.”
During the hearing, Grantham objected to Project Q being allowed to photograph the proceedings, but Schwall allowed it. She also objected to Schwall reviewing photographs that Elliott took of his injuries from the incident.
“We’ve got inconsistencies in his story. We’ve got over a week until he reports it. There is no proof that is a cigarette burn. The injuries do not appear to be a circular cigarette burn,” Grantham said.
Grantham painted Jones as a sympathetic figure -- a high school dropout who later received his GED, a native Atlantan who lives with his mother and works as a makeup artist.
“The past is the best indicator of future conduct. Mr. Jones has not ever had a felony arrest,” Grantham said. “He has no other arrests, no violent convictions, nothing. Thirty-one years of that behavior should be looked upon. We are asking for reasonable bond.”
Put him in 'a cage'
But Elliott said after the incident that Jones called him twice and threatened to kill him.
“I keep getting threats from him,” Elliott said. “You know what he did to me. He robbed me of thousands and thousands of dollars. What he did to me could easily have taken my life. He should not be anywhere but a cage.”
Schwall said he wants to review phone records that show Jones’ calls to Elliott and video footage from security tapes at the Artmore to see if Elliott was intoxicated before the incident. So he postponed the bond hearing until late March.
“I think we need those tapes. We need to look at cell phone records,” Schwall said. “I am not going to consider bond at this time.”