Court: Pre-trial motion in death penalty case premature

ATLANTA — The Georgia Supreme Court has upheld a Peach County court’s denial of a pre-trial motion filed by a woman facing the death penalty.

The woman — Lillian Walker of Montezuma — argued she should be acquitted because her right to a speedy trial has been violated. But, Justice David Nahmias wrote that under state law, the woman filed her motion prematurely.

Walker, 54 at the time of her arrest, was arrested on June 12, 2009, after her 85-year-old aunt, Lillian Graves, and her 65-year-old cousin, Agnes Stewart, were found stabbed to death in their Fort Valley home. Walker was accused of stealing her aunt’s Jeep Cherokee and going through the women’s purses to steal cash, credit cards and prescription drugs, according to briefs filed in the case.

A grand jury in August 2009 indicted Walker for murder, armed robbery and theft by taking of a motor vehicle. Peach County Superior Court has three court terms a year that begin in March, August and November, and during the August 2009 term, when she was indicted, her attorney filed a demand for speedy trial.

During the two terms that followed, no trial occurred. In the third term after she was indicted, in 2010, the State filed a Notice of Intent to Seek the Death Penalty. A new attorney was appointed to represent Walker and in February 2011, during the fourth term, he filed a motion for Walker’s acquittal based on the State’s failure to grant her a speedy trial. The trial court denied the motion in April 2011, and Walker then appealed to the state Supreme Court.

The court found that Walker’s motion was premature.

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