Activist accused of throwing coffee asks for new prosecutor

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Justin Jones

Justin Jones (Photo: WKRN)

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — The activist charged with assault and accused of throwing a cup of coffee into an elevator of lawmakers will be in court Thursday.

Justin Jones, 23, was arrested and charged by Tennessee Highway Patrol (THP) after the incident at the State Capitol in February.

MORE: THP: Protester arrested for tossing ‘unknown liquid believed to be coffee’ at Speaker Casada

At the time, THP reported when then-Speaker Glen Casada left a meeting to get on an elevator, Jones attempted to push past troopers and get on the elevator. When he wasn’t allowed on the elevator, THP said Jones started yelling at the Speaker, calling him a racist and then threw a cup “with an unknown liquid believed to be coffee,” at the Speaker.

A judge ordered Jones to have no-contact with Casada as part of his bond agreement but that contact was questioned over the receipt of an email.

Casada’s former Chief of Staff Cade Cothren turned over an email to the Davidson County District Attorney to investigate, claiming it was sent after that no-contact order was issued.

MORE: Special prosecutor appointed to investigate Speaker Casada’s emails

Jones denied violating the order, knowing the consequence could be a revocation of his bond.

Accusations that the dates were changed on the email led to the appointment of a special prosecutor, Coffee County District Attorney Craig Northcott.

At a hearing in July, Northcott said he believed Jones’ did not violate the conditions of his bond.

“I believe he’s telling the truth. He sent that email on Feb. 24th. I can establish that factually. I believe him. Bond order, pretrial release order did not come down
until Feb. 28th, thus he has done nothing to violate it,” said Northcott.

Northcott said he also believes Casada’s version of events – that he email was stuck in a “spam filter” and not released until after a few days.

At the same hearing, Jones’ attorney, Nick Leonardo, filed a motion asking for Northcott to be removed from the case. Leonardo argued Northcott has bias in cases with lawmakers because he’s lobbied state legislature. He also said Northcott’s Facebook posts about Muslims and believes on LGBT victims of domestic violence would create bias against Jones.

Northcott said the judge had no legal basis to remove him for the case and she agreed, even so, she scheduled a second hearing to allow both sides to further research the law.

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