Former DA Bright passes

Tia Lynn Ivey News

Fred Bright, longtime District Attorney for the Ocmulgee Judicial Circuit, lost his long battle against cancer and passed way last week.  Bright, who spent 20 years as the district attorney and was named State District Attorney of the Year in 2013, retired from the position in 2015 to began chemotherapy treatment for lymphoma.

Friends, family, and colleagues gathered on Tuesday, May 1 to celebrate and honor his remarkable life and distinguished career at the Northridge Christian Church in Milledgeville.

“Fred stood for caring for the community—to make sure we did everything we possibly could to keep people safe,” said Stephen Bradley, the current District Attorney who replaced Bright when we retired. “We will all miss him. Fred was a mentor to me and so many others in this office. He took a firm line on the people who were going to prey on the citizens of this district. Above all he stood for fairness. He was committed to looking at all the facts and doing what’s right in every case.  That was his guiding line for him and for us: that everybody was treated the same.”

Bright, who had a long and diverse career, worked diligently on cases small and large as the district attorney for the Ocmulgee Judicial Circuit. Bright even played a pivotal role in trying a capital case, which drew the national spotlight in the late 1990s, that led to the conviction of a serial killer, John Anthony Esposito, who murdered an elderly woman in North Carolina and dumped her body in Morgan County before embarking on a violent crime spree across the country with the aid of his girlfriend Alice Woodward, that ended with their arrest in Colorado. Esposito murdered others along the way, prompting Bright to seek the death penalty in case, calling the Esposito crimes, “the worst of the worst.”

“That was a big one,” said Bradley. “Fred worked hard on that one, as he did with every case he handled. He had such a multifaceted career and did so much to protect this community.”

According to his obituary, “Fred, a native of Baltimore, came to Georgia in 1973 and graduated from Emory and then the University of Georgia School of Law. Fred, one of the most experienced trial lawyers in Georgia, was a career prosecutor, serving as the District Attorney for the Ocmulgee Judicial Circuit for 21 years and as an Assistant District Attorney for 13 years before that. He tried over 400 jury trials. In 2015, he received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Prosecuting Attorneys’ Council of Georgia. After retiring from the D.A.’s office, he joined the Cansino Law Firm of Milledgeville in January 2018. He loved his courthouse families and relentlessly fought for justice.” Fred is survived by his loving wife and best friend for life, Cinda, and his sons Jonathan and Jacob. He is also survived by his siblings Dr. David E. Bright (wife Avril) of Colorado, Joel M. Bright (wife Trish) of Maryland, and Rhonda Bright Adams (husband Joe) of California; seven nephews; close first cousin Alysa Freeman (husband Gunner) of Hawaii; brother-in-law Keith Sloan (wife Terri) of Milledgeville; two nieces; and father-in-law Arnold Sloan of Allentown. He was predeceased by his parents Robert and Jessie Bright and his mother-in-law Shirley Bridges Sloan.

In lieu of flowers, the family requested that expressions of sympathy be made to the Winship Cancer Institute of Emory University, Office of Gift Records, Emory University, 1762 Clifton Rd. NE, Suite 1400, Atlanta, GA 30322 (https://winshipcancer.emory.edu/support-winship/give/memorial-gifts.html), Northridge Christian Church Missions, 321 Log Cabin Rd., Milledgeville, GA 31061 (http://northridge.online/give), or another charity of your choosing.  You can also express online condolences at www.williamsfuneral.net

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