Judge changes but won't lift Ga. man's banishment

AP News
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Posted: Sep 16, 2014 1:28 PM

ATLANTA (AP) — A Georgia man who fired a gun at a home and was later banished from most of the state can live with his mother, but is not allowed out of the county, a judge ruled Tuesday.

Fulton County Superior Court Judge Kimberly M. Esmond Adams ruled that David Nathan Thompson cannot set foot in any Georgia county except for DeKalb, where his mother and stepfather live.

Thompson was sentenced in 2005 to eight years in prison after he fired a round from a high-powered rifle into the brick wall of a suburban Atlanta house where his stepmother's sister lived. No one was hurt, but the family said they were frightened.

His sentence was eventually cut in half by a review panel, but a condition of his probation banned him from living everywhere in Georgia except Ware County, near the Florida line and about 250 miles from his family. After a subsequent arrest on a probation violation and more time in jail, his living restrictions were modified and essentially banned him from living just about anywhere in the state north of Macon.

Georgia judges cannot banish convicted criminals from the state, but the Georgia Supreme Court has upheld the practice of banishing them from living in all but one of the state's 159 counties.

Thompson, who suffers from mental illness, ended up moving to Columbus, where his isolation from his family caused him to grow increasingly despondent, to the point that he considered suicide, his lawyer Elizabeth Rogan told the judge. He moved home to his mother's house in DeKalb County in 2012, violating his probation.

Prosecutors in April asked the judge to revoke his probation. Rogan responded by asking the judge to lift his banishment entirely but to place him under close supervision by a probation officer.

Thompson has fixated on his banishment and that has caused his mental health to deteriorate, Rogan said

For a year after he got out of prison, before the banishment took effect, Thompson lived under house arrest at his mother's home and did very well, his mother, Andrea Davis, told the judge. He was very productive, helping start a youth ministry at his church and going to school to study welding, she said.

The judge is requiring Thompson to live with his mother for at least a year, to be highly supervised by a probation officer, to continue mental health evaluations and to take his medications.

The ruling gives Thompson some freedom, his mother said.

"He has lived under this shadow for two years where he was always looking over his shoulder," she said. "The freedom to be home and to be home with the court's permission — that is a tremendous relief."