Jerome Antonio Booze, of Decatur, was sentenced to life, with 35 years to be served in prison, by Cobb County Superior Court Judge Ann Harris. Booze was convicted yesterday of raping an intoxicated female passenger in December of 2016 while he was a Lyft driver.
He was represented in court by attorneys Noah Pines and Andrew Fleischman.
The victim had been drinking at a friend’s birthday celebration, when a friend called a Lyft driven by Booze to take her home, since by every account she was in a very inebriated state.
The defendant, in the words of the judge, “took advantage of her.” He was charged with and convicted of rape.
A complication arose early in the sentencing. Assistant District Attorney Courtney Veal said that another ADA, David Bailey, entered the courtroom during the trial the previous day, and recognized a member of the jury, a friend of his from church. Bailey immediately left the courtroom, but a short while later the juror emailed him, stating that “I assume you had to leave because I was in the jury.” The email was a violation of instructions to jurors involving communications during a trial, so the DA’s office notified the defense attorneys, who have the option of requesting a new trial.
Arguments and sentencing
Veal read a letter from the victim, who said that what should have been a wonderful day of celebration of her friend’s birthday, “ended as the worst day of my life.”
She wrote that Jerome Booze is a predator, and should be given the maximum sentence.
Fleischman, a defense attorney for Booze, argued that his client’s lack of criminal record should be taken into account during sentencing. He said this is the worst thing Booze had ever done, and that he should “not be thrown away” because of it. His client should be given a 25-year sentence, with a possibility of release, he said.
Veal argued that the victim’s inebriated state was no excuse for the crime of rape, and that Booze should be given life with at least 30 years in confinement.
In handing down the sentence, Harris said that the incident represents the worst nightmare of every parent or family member of a young woman. She said that while the level of the victim’s inebriation showed poor judgment, that poor judgment should not be a reason to be the victim of a crime.