Charges against KSU graduate Jessica Colotl dismissed

A Cobb County judge has dismissed the criminal case against Jessica Colotl, a Kennesaw State University graduate whose arrest and near-deportation for a traffic violation in 2010 sparked a controversy about illegal immigrants attending public colleges.

Superior Court Judge Mary E. Staley issued an order Wednesday consenting to former District Attorney Pat Head’s decision not to prosecute Colotl.

Colotl was instead allowed to complete 150 hours of community service in a pretrial diversion program to avoid a felony conviction for false swearing. The false swearing charge arose when Colotl lied to deputies about her address as she was being booked into jail for driving without a license.

Head retired at the end of 2012. A new District Attorney, Vic Reynolds, assumed office Jan. 2.

After reviewing the case, it was Reynolds’ opinion that he was bound by his predecessor’s previous agreement with Colotl, according to the judge’s order.

Reynolds could not immediately be reached for comment Thursday afternoon.

Colotl’s defense attorney, Jerome Lee, also was not available. Lee has previously said the tense political climate surrounding illegal immigration put a spotlight on Colotl’s case and that he believed Staley was caving to political pressure to punish her. Colotl’s parents brought her from Mexico to the U.S. illegally when she was about 10 years old.

Sheriff Neil Warren, who previously opposed the decision to let Colotl enter pretrial diversion, issued a statement Thursday reiterating that Colotl “deserves no special consideration in the criminal justice process for decisions she made as an adult to violate the laws of this state.”

“Unfortunately, newly elected District Attorney Vic Reynolds has inherited this case from his predecessor and is bound by decisions made prior to his taking office,” Warren’s statement continued. “I respect District Attorney Reynolds and look forward to working with him.”

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