ALBANY -- Christopher Cohilas, Dougherty District Attorney Greg Edwards' chief assistant, says that he will leave public office at the end of April and step into private practice at a local law firm.
Cohilas said from his office Monday that he is leaving "with a heavy heart," but that he will step down as chief assistant district attorney on April 27.
"It's with a heavy heart that I'll be leaving this office," he said. "This affords me with an opportunity to develop professionally in a new way. I'm extremely grateful for the opportunities that this office has provided for me over the years, especially working under Ken (Hodges, the previous district attorney) and Greg (Edwards)."
Cohilas will assume the role of senior associate at Watson Spence Law Firm, where he will focus on litigation and trial law.
In the district attorney's office, Cohilas served primarily as prosecutor of the circuit's sex crimes and major cases.
He and Edwards that brokered the deal with defense attorney Johnnie Graham that sent former Albany downtown manager Don Buie to jail until June 24 following a week-long trial on theft charges.
Cohilas also prosecuted Thomas Chapman, who pleaded guilty last summer to a 15-year-old rape case and received 40 years in prison with 25 years to serve.
And Cohilas tried Vincent Soilberry, who stood accused of killing his girlfriend's 3-year-old child and then lying to police to try and make it look like it was an accident. He was sentenced to life in prison plus 40 years for murder, aggravated battery and cruelty to children.
"Chris is a hardworking and talented attorney who takes his job very seriously. His hard work and commitment raised the office's conviction rate on cases involving crimes against children to nearly 100 percent," Edwards said. "We will miss him and I wish him well as he embarks on his new career. Our loss in certainly Watson Spence's gain."
Cohilas said that much of his caseload will be redistributed to others in the office, including Edwards, who he said would take the more heinous crimes.
That includes the Jack Camp murder case, which has yet to come up for trial. In that case, three men stand accused of killing paramedic and search and rescue team member Jack Camp outside the Regency Club Apartments in March 2007.
Edwards has not stated who he will consider appointing to the chief assistant district attorney's position following Cohilas' departure.