Jurors in Cotman trial begin deliberations

Jurors in Cotman trial begin deliberations

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Tamara Cotman Tamara Cotman
ATLANTA -

The first trial involving the Atlanta Public Schools cheating scandal is in the hands of a jury.

Tamara Cotman, a former Atlanta Public Schools administrator, is accused of trying to intimidate educators into not cooperating with state investigators.

Closing arguments took place Thursday morning.

Prosecutors told jurors that it was time to hold former APS regional director accountable for her fear and intimidation. Cotman is one of 34 educators indicted in the APS cheating scandal. This trial is to determine if Cotman influenced a witness by trying to prevent a principal from talking to the GBI.

Defense attorney Benjamin Davis told the jurors that two principals at the so-called "Go to hell" memo meeting say Cotman did not instruct her subordinates to send memos to the GBI.

"They don't explain that when they called their own witness, their own witness said Ms. Cotman never told them not to talk to the GBI," said Davis.

But, a passionate prosecutor says Cotman knew about cheating and intimidated, silenced and demoted employees who wouldn't go along with the dishonesty.

"She perpetrated a fraud on this community and I want you to tell her it was wrong to intimidate those principals," said prosecutor Fani Willis.  "It was wrong to intimidate Kalina and Ms. McBride and yes, it was wrong to intimidate Ms. Hawkins. You ought to tell her, ‘We are not going to silence the lie anymore; we are going to expose the truth."
 
The jury began deliberations on Thursday afternoon before being dismissed for the day.

If convicted, Cotman faces up to five years in prison.

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