Opening statements are set to begin Tuesday in the trial of a former Macon police officer accused of having sex with an alleged shoplifter in exchange for not taking her to jail.
The trial began Monday with jury selection for Freddie Wilder Fountain, who is charged with sexual assault against a person in custody and violation of oath by a public officer.
Fountain and another officer responded to a report of two women shoplifting at Old Navy on Presidential Parkway Oct. 11, 2011.
While in custody, one of the women allegedly “negotiated the charge with an offer of sex” with Fountain, and Fountain drove her to his apartment, where they had sex, police have said.
Later, when the other woman threatened to subpoena her alleged accomplice to testify in her defense, the woman who allegedly had sex with Fountain reported her encounter with the officer to police.
If convicted of both charges, Fountain could face a maximum of 30 years in prison.
A judge is considering whether jurors will hear testimony about an alleged prior encounter with a crime victim he allegedly met in March 2011.
Fountain, the responding officer to the emergency call, later used a phone number he got through his handling of the case to call her for non-police reasons, prosecutor Dorothy Hull said at a Monday pretrial hearing.
“He began calling or texting her, soliciting sex from her and asking if she wanted to smoke weed,” Hull said. “He wouldn’t leave her alone.”
The woman eventually filed a complaint with the police department.
Hull argued although Fountain didn’t have sex with the woman, information about the complaint is relevant and could help corroborate the allegations against him stemming from his alleged October 2011 encounter.
“It goes to show the defendant’s state of mind, knowledge, intent and motive,” Hull said. “The defendant in both cases encountered a female through the course of his employment as a Macon police officer. He was on duty when he met both of these females.”
Sam Hart Jr., Fountain’s lawyer, argued against the judge’s allowing information about the allegations to be included in the trial.
He said the accusations would have a “prejudicial” impact that outweighs their value.
Hart also argued against jurors hearing about a photo line-up used by police to identify the officer who allegedly had sex with the accused shoplifter.
He contended that the set of black and white photos presented to the woman were “suggestive” of who she should choose.
The woman described the officer involved in the encounter as being a black man with a medium complexion. The set of photos included six men in police uniforms -- five of them with darker skin than Fountain, Hart said.
Hull said the woman immediately picked Fountain from the set of photos with no influence from the officers.
The judge ruled the lineup can be used as evidence during the trial.
Fountain was issued a written reprimand following a Jan. 12, 2012, incident behind Bed Bath & Beyond on Presidential Parkway that involved several officers caught playing football while waiting to serve an arrest warrant.
To contact writer Amy Leigh Womack, call 744-4398 or find her on Twitter @awomackmacon.