Jerry Chambers, Junior remains behind bars in the Chatham County Detention Center.
But the questions about why he if he shot someone last year, why wasn’t Chambers charged as an adult in the first place continue on social media and across the city.
Chatham County District Attorney Meg Heap, who has been at the center of that controversy, told News 3 the case was challenging from the start.
“Did you believe Jerry Chambers was a danger to the community?”
“I did and that’s why we pursued the case,” said Heap.
Pursued the case against then 16 year old Jerry Chambers back in 2016.
A shooting and robbery outside Savannah Mall.
But despite the violent nature, Chambers didn’t face a jury, but just a juvenile court judge.
“As for the police’s assertion during the news conference they said we had a very strong case?”
“They may have felt there was probable cause, but in speaking with the Chief yesterday he knew there were problems going in but we knew it was a case we had to fight and we did fight.”
But the fight became a little harder when the original armed robbery charge against Chambers, which would have kept it in Superior Court, had to be knocked down to attempted robbery.
“Is it an armed robbery? well one of the elements is that you have to have a theft by taking,” said Heap. “There was no theft in the armed robbery, nothing was taken, its not an armed robbery,. I had a discussion with law enforcement early on, and they said thats not right. I said it may not be right but its the law.”
“We call them the seven deadly sins,” explains the District Attorney. “It is murder, it is armed robbery, armed robbery with a gun it is treason aggravated child molestation it is sexual assault.. other crimes, like you shot someone, is in juvenile court. By law You can file a motion to transfer it to superior court, but you have to meet three criteria, does that juvenile have a record, is he amenable to rehabilitation, and you look at the crime itself.
“This individual had no record. The case was originally charged as armed robbery, but nothing was taken. So it went back to juvenile court.”
That meant Jerry Chambers junior faced aggravated assault charges not in front of a jury, but only in front of Judge Thomas Cole.
“One of my most experienced prosecutors took the case to court, introduced over 40 exhibits, witnesses, filed motions. in the end its up to the judge,” said Heap.
“We knew going in this was a tough case, but there was a victim behind it, we felt we had to fight the fight and the judge felt he had to do his job. and that’s what he did. We weren’t happy, but Sometimes we don’t win but we still have to fight and try.”
“You have to do what is right and we did what we thought was right,” said Heap. “We took it to court, we took it to a trial, a bench trial in front of juvenile court, and then the Judge makes the decision.”
By law, Heap could not go into specifics about Chambers previous case because the case involves a juvenile, and juvenile court.
When chambers faces these new “adult” charges of felony murder his juvenile charges will not be brought up either.
Prosecutors have to follow the law, and they will not be able to bring up his juvenile record.
They can file a motion for the court to consider those facts, and bring them up as part of their argument.