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Federal Trial Brings Heightened Security in Thomasville

By: Adam Vasallo
By: Adam Vasallo

A federal trial brings tight security to Thomasville, and while the presence of federal police here in the Rose City is rare, residents say they don't mind the added safety measure.

There were federal agents on the sidewalk, K-9 units in the parking lot and a lot of curiosity about heightened security outside the Thomasville Federal Building.

Lloyd Eckberg, a Thomas County resident, says he's not worried.

Lloyd says, "I think adequate security in any trial is a very important thing."

The added security coincides with the start of jury selection in the much-talked about case involving three Grady County men.

Court documents show that Charles Harrell, his son Martin Harrell and Cairo businessman W. Dexter Harrison all face a variety of federal charges ranging from insurance fraud to arson.

Many of those charges center on a 2002 hotel fire. Federal officials say this type of security is standard in a federal trial.

David Scott, a Thomasville resident, says, "You feel more comfortable with yourself, you feel more relaxed that you have someone looking over you."

And while such tight security still gets second glances from some in the Rose City, to many it's just a sign of the times.

Lloyd adds, "Our society has changed as you know, dramatically over the past few years with all the terrorist threats we… I don't think we can take anything for granted anymore."

Opening statements in this trial will begin as soon as a jury is seated, and that process could take a few days. Meanwhile, heightened security at the courthouse will remain in place until the trial is complete.


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