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APS defendants to be re-sentenced

Some convicted former Atlanta Public Schools educators will be re-sentenced Thursday.
Michael Pitts, Sharon Davis Williams, Tamara Cotman

WATCH LIVE | 11Alive is streaming live coverage as a judge is expected to re-sentence some APS defendants. Watch live here: on.11Alive.com/BreakingNews

ATLANTA – Some convicted former Atlanta Public Schools educators will be re-sentenced Thursday afternoon.

Fulton County Judge Jerry Baxter will issue new sentences for Sharon Davis Williams, Michael Pitts and Tamara Cotman. It's not yet known if other defendants will also have their sentences modified. At least one defense attorney said he would attempt to get his client's sentences modified.

Last week, Baxter sentenced the three to 20 years (seven to serve), $25,000 fine, 2000 hours of community service, and no first offender status.

All three were found guilty of racketeering charges in the APS cheating trial. Pitts was also found guilty of influencing witnesses. Their sentences were the harshest handed down by Baxter to the 11 former educators found guilty.

Three other defendants were sentenced to five years (one to serve), 1,500 hours of community service and a $5,000 fine. Another defendant, Dana Evans, received a sentence of five years (one to serve) and 1,000 hours of community service. Diane Buckner-Webb and Theresia Copeland each received sentences of five years (one to serve), 1000 hours of community and a $1,000 fine.

Two defendants -- Donald Bullock and Pamela Cleveland -- agreed to accept the state's plea deal.

"The most likely way this would happen would be with the consent and agreement of both the DA and the judge, although unilateral action by the judge can't be ruled out at this point," said 11Alive legal analyst Philip Holloway. "It most likely means that some or perhaps all have reevaluated their overall legal predicaments and have negotiated some sentence less than that originally imposed. Statistically in Georgia, criminal appeals are successful in about 8% of all cases so it is dangerous to put all your legal eggs into the appeal basket when there is yet another opportunity to lessen your sentence. This would be beneficial not only to any defendants who get a reduced sentence but to the taxpayers who would bear the high costs of a very lengthy appeal. Although this sort of opportunity is practically unprecedented, this entire case has been like nothing we have ever seen before or are likely to ever see again."

APS VERDICT | The defendants, the verdicts and the sentences