Brittney Burns – Staff Writer
Macon County made national headlines in 2015 when two individuals were arrested on the campus of South Macon Elementary School before school started one spring morning. Multiple weapons were recovered from the scene and Macon County Sheriff’s Office deputies scuffled with Adam Conley and Kathryn Jeter before taking them into custody.
Two years later, the individuals have had their day in court. Adam Conley was found guilty of all charges which included attempted murder, and five separate counts of having a gun on school property. The attempted murder charge brought a sentence of 170-216 months (14-18 years) in prison and for the gun charges, an additional six to 17 months. Conley will also have two years probation.
Charges against Jeter were dropped and she was immediately released.
“I am just as disappointed in the Jeter/Conley case as anyone else,” said Macon County Sheriff Robert Holland at the conclusion of the trial. “I feel Jeter was just as guilty as Conley. The Macon County Sheriff’s Office and our District Attorney’s Office worked extremely hard to try and convict both these criminals. We wanted to hold them accountable all while adhering to the laws that govern us. We don’t make the laws but we must abide by them and we certainly did.”
Sheriff Holland noted that during the process and court proceedings over the past two years, several things occurred before the case ever made it to trial. Both suspects were ordered to undergo psychological evaluations and at the conclusion of those examinations both Jeter and Conley were determined to be incompetent. Months later additional evaluations were ordered and found them to be competent.
“Last week at start of the Conley/Jeter trial this was brought up in motions by the defense,” said Sheriff Holland. “At the conclusion the Superior Court Judge ruled that at the time Jeter made her statements to law enforcement she was incompetent and therefore her statements to MCSO detectives could not be used in this trial. Our District Attorney fought this vigorously and lost and the judge’s finding stood as trial moved forward.”
Because Jeter was found to be incompetent during the statement given after her arrest, much of the evidence used to charge Jeter wasn’t presented in court, leading the judge to dismiss the case against her.
“Without those statements our case against Jeter was much weaker but our District Attorney Ashley Welch and I agreed we needed to proceed with the case against both suspects and everyone who works for us agreed,” said Sheriff Holland. “At the end of the evidence the defense made a motion to dismiss the charges against Jeter due to lack of enough evidence. Again, our District Attorney’s Office vigorously opposed but at the conclusion the Superior Court judge dismissed all charges except cruelty to animals. The DA decided to dismiss the only remaining charge because of fear it would only cloud the jury worrying about a less serious misdemeanor charge. The focus needed to be on the more serious offenses.”