The case against Dorothy Gass in State Court is apparently a dead issue, though the local DA could press new charges in Superior Court, the incoming State Court solicitor said late last week.
Gass is the 66-year-old Walker County woman whose false 911 phone call on New Year’s Day triggered a sequence of events that ended with a deputy fatally shooting a man.
When contacted Thursday, Aug. 30, for an update in the case, State Court Solicitor Pat Clements said the case was “still open” but that any further action would have to come from Chris Townley.
Townley was set to become the new State Court solicitor on Saturday, Sept. 1.
Clements, asked if he would like to see the charge pursued and the case reopened, said he had “no comment.”
On Thursday, Townley said the case would have to be revived by Friday, Aug. 31, the last day of the month, for it to move forward in State Court. He also said that since he is partners with attorney Thomas Lindsay, who is representing Gass's son Steven in his divorce, he would have to recuse or remove himself from the case if it continued in the Solicitor’s Office. That means an outside prosecutor would have to pick up the case in order to try it again.
Townley said that after Friday the district attorney would have to make new charges against Gass if he wished to pursue the case, but those would be in Superior Court, not State Court. Buzz Franklin, Lookout Mountain Judicial Circuit district attorney, was not available and did not return a call seeking comment on Thursday.
Last month, Clements said he was not consulted in a Judge Billy Mullinax’s decision to drop a charge against Gass of falsely reporting a crime report.
Clements, the designated prosecutor in the case, told the Walker County Messenger last month that he did not recommend the charge be dropped against Gass.
Mullinax, a State Court judge for Walker County, on June 13 dismissed the charge, a misdemeanor, against Gass.
The nolle prosse order that Mullinax used in dismissing the case is issued upon the recommendation of the case prosecutor, Clements confirmed. The order in the case declares the prosecutor does not want to continue prosecution in the case and/or that the charges cannot be proved.
Clements said at that time, “I’m trying to find out who did” make the decision to drop the charge, adding he was checking to see if someone else in his office made that recommendation. Asked if Mullinax could have legally initiated the nolle prosse order on his own, Clements said he did not know.
On New Year’s Day, police say, Gass lied to a 911 dispatcher, resulting in the fatal shooting by Walker County Deputy John Chandler of Mark Parkinson, 65, the father of Gass’s daughter-in-law.
A grand jury is scheduled to hear evidence in the case on Sept. 4 to decide whether to indict Deputy Chandler in Parkinson’s death.
When officers responded to the 911 call, they knocked on the Parkinson residence in Rossville and announced their arrival. Hearing the commotion and his dogs barking, Parkinson grabbed a gun and went into the kitchen to check out someone banging on his kitchen window. From the porch, Deputy Chandler saw him with the gun and fired three shots, one of which struck Parkinson in the jugular vein, causing him to bleed to death.
After trying to determine if the 911 call was made maliciously or in good faith, the Georgia Bureau of Investigation arrested Gass on Feb. 23 for the false report of a crime. She turned herself in to the Walker County jail, where she was released on her own recognizance.
The June 13 hearing in the case at which Mullinax dismissed the charge was not attended by either law enforcement representatives or members of the victim’s family. Greg Ramey, GBI special agent in Calhoun and who investigated the case, said his office did receive a notice of the hearing. Because of timing conflicts, however, the case agent could not attend the hearing and asked, in writing, for a continuance or postponement of the hearing so she could be in attendance.
Ramsey said his office received no response from Judge Mullinax. He said he was confident in GBI’s supporting evidence and arguments in securing the charge against Gass.