On a winter Wednesday nearly two decades ago, Andrew Lee Wright saw a 14-year-old girl walking near Ga. Highway 96 in Bonaire. He pulled up in a teal-blue Honda Civic and asked why she wasn’t in school.
According to courtroom testimony and police accounts, Wright’s Jan. 31, 2002, encounter with the girl involved him pretending to be a firefighter, luring her into his car, choking her and threatening to rape her.
A year and a half later, in July 2003, Wright, who is from Macon and now 46 years old, pleaded guilty to aggravated child molestation and other charges in exchange for a reduced sentence of a decade and a half behind bars.
He also agreed to be chemically castrated upon his release from prison in January 2017. But that additional measure, a controversial one which would involve taking testosterone-reducing drugs, likely never happened in Wright’s case, authorities now say.
By the fall of 2017, less than 10 months after his release from prison, Wright found himself behind bars again — this time in his hometown Bibb County jail on allegations that he had posed as a GBI agent on a rendezvous with a south Macon prostitute.
He has been locked up ever since for allegedly impersonating a police officer and pandering, allegedly soliciting sex.
On Thursday, with a trial date looming, Wright appeared in Bibb Superior Court where a prosecutor successfully argued that Wright’s prior convictions were relevant and could be heard by jurors.
If convicted, he faces a maximum of five years in prison on the impersonation charge and a year on the pandering count. If found guilty, having already served two years in the county jail, he could be released as early as 2022.
Bibb prosecutor Dorothy Hull in court Thursday cited Wright’s 2002 crimes, describing how he had donned a baseball cap with a fire department or paramedic logo on it before enticing the teenager in Houston County. The kidnapping happened near Calvary Baptist Church on Ga. 96, just east of Moody Road in Bonaire.
Hull said Wright told the girl he was a firefighter and lied that a nearby sheriff’s deputy had enlisted him to find out why the girl wasn’t in school.
“She believed that he was a fireman,” Hull said, adding that after the girl got into Wright’s car he drove east across the Ocmulgee River and into neighboring Twiggs County. In some woods north of Tarversville, he told her he was going to rape her.
The girl tried to get away but he grabbed her and began choking her, Hull said.
“She then begged him not to rape her and not to hurt her. He then made her perform oral sex,” Hull said, noting that after the assault Wright dropped the girl off at a grocery store in Bonaire.
Wright was arrested the next day when a Houston sheriff’s deputy recognized his car from its description in a lookout.
The current charges against Wright involve an episode with the south Macon prostitute who knew him as “Andy,” Hull said.
Hull said the prostitute told investigators that on Nov. 6, 2017, Wright told her he was an undercover GBI agent trying to get information about area drug dealers.
Investigators have said that Wright showed the prostitute a picture of a GBI badge that was on his cellphone when he balked at paying the $10 he owed her for a sex act.
Hull said Wright went so far as to drive the “frightened” woman to the Bibb sheriff’s office, take her inside and ask a desk clerk to run the woman’s name on a computer system that checks to see if people are wanted.
Upon learning the prostitute was not wanted, he dropped her off on Houston Avenue. Wright was arrested after sheriff’s deputies, using the woman’s description of him, spotted Wright.
“We are not asserting that the victim in this case was sexually assaulted or that the sexual act was done with force,” Hull said. “But the defendant was not claiming to be a GBI agent in order to get a discount at a restaurant.”
Wright is considering representing himself at trial. He said he doesn’t “feel comfortable” with his court-appointed lawyer.
Wright has until noon Friday to accept a plea offer that would allow him a chance at parole.
In court Thursday, the pale, bespectacled Wright could be heard telling his attorney, Andrew Jenkins, that he had “lost everything” in his life.