Testimony begins in DeKalb school-construction corruption case

by: Erica Byfield Updated:

DEKALB COUNTY, Ga. - Thursday marked the first day of testimony in a high-profile corruption case in DeKalb County. During opening statements, the jurors learned both defendants plan to testify during the trial.

Patricia Reid and Tony Pope are facing racketeering and theft by taking charges. Reid used to work for DeKalb County Schools and Pope is an architect.

The state alleges the former couple manipulated the system and were able to illegally secure more than a million dollars.

The attorneys used a little word play during opening statements. DeKalb County Chief Assistant District Attorney Kellie Hill summarized the states view of the case with three words: "Marriage, manipulation and money."

John Petrey is part of the team that represents Pope, and when it was his turn to speak, he played off of what Hill said.

"In this case, the evidence is actually more about quality, quibbling and questions," Petrey said.

Reid's attorney, Tony Axam, said she is innocent and will prove it on the witness stand.

"Pat Reid says that there is no crime and that she was not involved and that she is not a co-conspirator," Axam said.

Jurors also heard from three witnesses during the first day of testimony. Two were former DeKalb County executives.

Both testified that they were a part of a conversation where Reid and Pope were told that once she was hired, Pope could no longer work for the district.

Former school board member Lynn Cherry-Grant also testified, talking about her experience on the board and what interaction she had with Pope and Reid.

Testimony resumes Monday morning.