by Sharon Rondeau
(Aug. 25, 2022) — A group of Shelby County citizens have launched a petition asking newly-elected District Attorney General Steve Mulroy (D) to investigate “corruption, collusion and cover-up” pertaining to two criminal cases overseen by his predecessor, Amy Weirich.
On August 4, Mulroy won election over Weirich, who served in the position since 2011, by approximately 16,000 votes. He is scheduled to be sworn in on September 1.
The referenced cases are those of Jason Lamar White and Kristina Cole, a single mother of three pictured with her children at the top of the petition prior to her 2017 conviction on a drug charge.
Weirich, a Republican, was appointed in 2011 by then-Gov. Bill Haslam to serve the 30th Judicial District’s chief prosecutor after Bill Gibbons departed to become commissioner of the state’s Department of Safety and Homeland Security. The following year Weirich was elected to complete the last two years of Gibbons’s term, then in 2014 re-elected to a full eight-year term.
In 2017 she was privately reprimanded by the Tennessee Supreme Court for “improperly commenting” on a defendant’s right to invoke her Fifth Amendment right not to testify, and she was found to have been the “most overzealous prosecutor” in a four-state study completed by the Fair Punishment Project in 2017.
Mulroy has been a county commissioner, worked in the Clinton Justice Department as a civil-rights attorney, and served as both a federal prosecutor and defense counsel, according to The Daily Memphian. He is also a longtime professor of law at the University of Memphis, Commercial Appeal reported and the university notes.
In an August 23 interview, Mulroy said he plans to place the highest priority on combating violent crime.
Mulroy also said that though he believes there “will be overlap” with Weirich’s approach, he wants to “reform the system so that we can restore public confidence in the fairness of the system” by de-emphasizing such crimes as marijuana possession and reforming bail practices.
As referenced in the petition, The Post & Email has covered the White case extensively and to a lesser extent, that of his co-defendant, Kristina Cole. Both were convicted of participating in a scheme to promote and distribute methamphetamine in a “drug free zone.”
Cole was sentenced to 13 1/2 years in prison with no prior criminal history, while White, who was completing a 20-year sentence for an unrelated crime, was sentenced to six decades in prison with no possibility of parole despite the non-violent nature of his alleged crime.
Both declare their innocence and have filed post-conviction petitions arguing that their trials were inherently flawed. In April, a three-judge appellate panel reversed Judge Robert Carter’s denial of Cole’s post-conviction petition claims, remanding the matter to Carter for him to perform the due diligence they said was lacking.
After a 2+year waiting period, a post-conviction appeal hearing for White was held in early July over three days, with no decision having been rendered as of this writing.
Carter is set to retire August 31, although in White’s online record, it is indicated a “hearing” will take place the following day with Carter as the jurist.
White’s record also at one time showed he was indicted on lower charges than those on which he was tried and convicted, an issue he raised as he argued the case on his own behalf in front of Carter last month.
As The Post & Email has reported, White is housed in New Mexico without access to Tennessee law for allegedly posing a threat to Assistant District Attorney (ADA) Christopher Scruggs, who prosecuted the case, and his former defense attorney, Claiborne Ferguson, who was one of the witnesses at the post-conviction hearing last month.
White was never charged on those allegations, which in 2019 Weirich made in a letter to the Tennessee Department of Correction (TDOC) recommending he be relocated out-of-state.
The petition begins with some history on the two cases:
The abuse of power that was created by Amy Weirich, the Attorney General, ADA Associate Christopher Scruggs and Judge Robert “Bobby” Carter in Division 3 court in Shelby County assisted in helping Detective Mark Gia bring an illegal conviction against Jason White and Kristina Cole. Detective Mark Gia with Bartlett Police Dept, received a UPS package from Detective Adam Collins from California that contained a FedEx package with a pound of methamphetamine . The FedEx package was address to Bailey Green at address 2552 Linwood. Detective Mark Gia lied to obtain an illegal search warrant by saying it was addressed to 2552 Jinwood, Kristina Cole’s resident.
It concludes asking for “support to encourage the elected DA, Steve Mulroy to participate in a thorough investigation of corruption and conspiracy engaged in multiple individuals in effort to circumvent Jason and Kristina’s freedom.”