EATONTON, Ga. — A police officer is now off the force in Eatonton after his arrest Wednesday night in Newton County on charges stemming from the shooting death of his wife at the couple’s home near Lake Oconee in Putnam County.
Michael Seth Perrault, who was taken into custody about 6 p.m. at his sister’s residence, was notified at the Putnam County Jail in Eatonton on Thursday morning that he had been fired, according to Eatonton Police Chief Kent Lawrence.
The police chief said he also had notified the Georgia Peace Officers and Standards Council (P.O.S.T.) concerning Perrault’s termination from the police department after his arrest on a murder charge.
Michael Perrault, who is known to family and friends as Seth, was served a murder warrant at his sister’s home Wednesday night, according to Putnam County Sheriff Howard R. Sills.
“He was sitting on the front porch smoking a cigarette when we arrived,” Sills told reporters Thursday morning before a press conference at the sheriff’s office.
The warrant accuses Seth Perrault of shooting to death his 44-year-old wife, Amanda Pardue Perrault, Monday at the couple’s home, located on Long Island Drive in the Long Island Forest subdivision.
Amanda Perrault was shot once in the head with what Sills described as a .380-caliber pistol.
The shooting reportedly stemmed from an ongoing argument between the couple that had led to Seth Perrault’s arrest less than a week before the fatal shooting.
The sheriff said the ongoing investigation by deputies and detectives with the Putnam County Sheriff’s Office, along with crime scene specialists with the Georgia Bureau of Investigation Region 6 Office in Milledgeville, had revealed that the couple were the only ones at home at the time of the shooting.
“He does have a small child, but the child was in school,” Sills said.
Seth Perrault was brought back to Eatonton and taken to the Putnam County Jail. The suspect since has been taken to an undisclosed jail for security reasons.
“He’s here in the jail charged with the murder of his wife,” Sills said at the news conference. “We’re not going to talk about evidence other than in the general sense.”
Seth Perrault appeared before Putnam County Chief Magistrate Dorothy J. Adams for his first hearing Thursday morning in the courtroom of the jail. It marked the second time in just a little more than a week that Perrault had appeared before the chief magistrate.
Perrault appeared before Adams in an orange-colored jumpsuit and handcuffs.
He was represented at the hearing by Bethany Lavigno, an attorney from Conyers.
Adams informed the suspect of his rights and read aloud to him the murder warrant during the brief hearing.
Adams also informed Perrault that she could not set bond in a murder case. In Georgia, only a Superior Court judge has such authority.
The warrant, a copy of which was obtained by The Union-Recorder, reads as follows:
“Sheriff Howard R. Sills personally makes oath that Michael Seth Perrault, hereinafter called the accused did, on or about Feb. 3, 2020, in the county aforesaid at 133 Long Island Drive, commit the offense of murder in violation of O.C.G.A. 16-5-1, against the laws of this state, in that the said accused did unlawfully ad with malice aforethought, cause the death of a human being, to wit: Amanda Perrault, by shooting the said Amanda Perrault with a pistol.”
As Perrault was led out of the courtroom at the sheriff’s office, a member of his family, believed to be his father, said, “Seth, we love you.”
The shooting followed an argument in the bedroom of their residence shortly after 1:30 p.m. Monday, Sills said.
Sills, who was joined at Thursday morning’s news conference by Ocmulgee Judicial Circuit Assistant District Attorney T. Wright Barksdale, who prosecutes cases in Putnam and Hancock counties, told reporters he plans to present the case to a Putnam County grand jury in March.
“We hope that that will be the case,” Barksdale told reporters. “However, we’re going to do our due diligence and work with law enforcement and make sure that we have a thorough review of the case and obviously, I will be speaking with Stephen Bradley, the district attorney, which we’ve been in constant communication with one another, and the sheriff. But we’d like to think that we could get that off the ground by March.”
Six days before the shooting, on Tuesday, Jan. 28, Seth Perrault and his wife got into an argument that turned physical and led to Amanda reportedly being hit and pushed in the chest by her husband at their residence. Amanda Perrault called the Putnam County Sheriff’s Office and subsequently, Seth Perrault was arrested and charged with simple assault under the Georgia Family Violence Act and cruelty to children in the third degree.
Both charges are misdemeanors.
The cruelty to children charge was filed against the now-former police officer because his daughter for whom he had custody, reportedly witnessed the argument between her father and stepmother. The girl supported her stepmother’s version of what happened.
After his first arrest, Seth Perrault appeared before Adams where bond was set at $1,500 — the highest that it could have been set because the charges were misdeameanors.
Don Johnson Bonding Company prepared the bond papers for Perrault to be released from the jail after his first arrest.
Sills said Perrault’s wife was at the initial bond hearing and indicated to the court that it was OK for her husband to be allowed to return to their home.
“I was personally at that hearing,” Sills said. “The chief magistrate, Dorothy Adams, very specifically was interested in putting a condition of bond that he not have contact with his wife. However, [Amanda Perrault] was here at that bond hearing and she asserted to the court that he had no place to go and it was OK for him to come back home.”
The sheriff said he personally spoke to Amanda Perrault.
“And I spoke to her again after the bond hearing when he was not present,” Sills said. “And she reiterated it was OK for him to come back to the residence.”
The sheriff called what happened “a very, terribly tragic event.”
“Let me say this, any restraining order or temporary protective order, anything like that is not going to absolutely ensure that something isn’t going to happen,” Sills said. “But it is a tool that law enforcement has, and the court has to protect victims. If you’re in a situation of domestic violence, and we’re looking into this relationship from a long-term standpoint now, but you’re in that — get out of it and utilize the laws and things that available to you. It’s an unfortunate cycle. This is not the first one of these that I’ve been involved with.”
Sills said although the couple had been involved in a relationship for about eight years, they had only been married a couple of years.
He said evidence found at the scene led him and others involved in the investigation to bring any case to an arrest and prosecution standpoint.
Said Sills of the investigation: “…This was a scene that was very suspicious to me the minute I saw it. But you have to gather evidence, and we did. And we met with the district attorney, Mr. Barksdale and the district attorney, Steve Bradley, and we went over the evidence in-depth and discussed the situation and what we would do or what I might do or might not do, and things of that nature. We made the decision that it was time to make an arrest.”
After the shooting, Seth Perrault, who told authorities he witnessed his wife retrieve a pistol from a nightstand in their bedroom and shoot herself, said he telephoned Eatonton Police Chief Kent Lawrence to report what had happened.
Sills said the police chief, in turn, called him and that was how authorities learned about the shooting.
“He (Lawrence) called me while he still had him (Michael Seth Perrault) on the line,” Sills recalled.
The sheriff described Seth Perrault as “very distraught” when he got to the residence.
“He asserted his right to remain silent when he was arrested (on Wednesday night)."