By Joe Johnson
A former Madison County Sheriff’s deputy’s claim that he killed a University of Georgia graduate student two years ago because he was protecting his wife from possibly being harmed by the student “borders on the absurd,” a prosecutor said in a recent court filing.
Western Judicial Circuit Assistant District Attorney Robert Schollmeyer made the statement in response to a June motion by Winford Terrell “Trey” Adams III that asked a judge to quash the murder indictment because when he fatally shot 26-year-old Benjamin Lloyd Cloer, he did so because he was concerned for the safety of his wife when he saw her sitting on a couch with Cloer in the student's home on Old Jefferson River Road.
Adams, 33, of Lord Fleming Road in Comer claimed in the motion that he had acted in his capacity as a deputy even though he was not on duty. The motion argues that because Adams’ had acted as a public officer, he was entitled by law to have been provided by the district attorney a copy of the proposed indictment 15 days before it was presented to a grand jury.
Adams also was not afforded his right as a law enforcement officer to appear before the grand jury “to make such sworn statement as he or she shall desire at the conclusion of the presentation of the state’s evidence.” the motion states.
Therefore, the motion claims, the seven-count grand jury indictment that charges Adams with murder, home invasion and related crimes should be quashed.
In the rebuttal motion filed Tuesday in Clarke County Superior Court, Schollmeyer argued that Adams had not been acting in his capacity as a law enforcement officer when he shot Cloer, but rather acted as a jealous husband.
A few days prior to the shooting, Charlotte Adams told her husband that she was friends with Cloer and had been to the student’s home a couple of weeks earlier, the prosecution motion states, and on the day of the shooting, Charlotte told Adams she was going to visit with the student again, possibly to meet with co-workers for dinner.
Cloer was a UGA student who was working toward a master’s degree in artificial intelligence.
When completing his shift with the sheriff’s office at 4:47 p.m., the motion states, Adams reported to Madison County dispatch that he was “10-7” and subsequently “10-42,” police codes that indicated he was out of service and his tour of duty had ended.
“At approximately 6:20 p.m., Charlotte arrived at the victim’s home where she ate and then sat on the couch with the victim for a short period.” Schollmeyer states in the motion. “A few minutes later, the Defendant barged in the victim’s home unannounced and confronted Charlotte about being unfaithful. At the time, the Defendant had drawn his handgun and pointed it at both Charlotte and the victim.
“The Defendant grabbed Charlotte around the neck and started to choke her,” the prosecutor stated in the motion. “As the victim attempted to flee from the Defendant through the front door, the Defendant shot him four times in the back. The victim managed to get to a neighbor's house where he collapsed” and later died at the hospital.
Schollmeyer argues that Adams had not been sent to Cloer’s house on any official police business.
“He went to the victim’s house as he admitted to officers on the scene because he suspected Charlotte was having an affair with the victim,” according to the motion. “Defendant claims in his motion that he barged into the victim’s home to protect his wife from possible injury at the hands of the victim.
“This argument borders on absurdity,” Schollmeyer continued. “In addition, the Defendant’s own admissions to officers as to why he was there, once inside the victim’s home the defendant attacked Charlotte by choking her and shoving her to the ground telling her she was a ‘cheating bitch.’ The Defendant was hardly concerned with Charlotte’s safety.”
The motion notes that when officers arrived Adams held the gun to his head and threatened suicide.
Oral arguments on the motion to quash the’ indictment had yet to be scheduled as of Thursday.