Prosecutors plan to take Michael Brett Kelly to trial first in an alleged embezzlement scheme that resulted in the slaying of a Macon legal secretary.
Based on our review of the evidence, it makes sense, District Attorney David Cooke said after a Tuesday hearing in the case.
Prosecutors will seek the death penalty against Kelly, 19, and his then-girlfriend, 38-year-old Tracy Michelle Jones, in the death of Gail Spencer.
Kelly and Keith Anthony Dozier allegedly held Spencer at her Stinsonville Road home Oct. 5, 2012, while Jones transferred $1.3 million from accounts at Macons Pinkston & Associates law firm. Jones and Spencer worked at the law firm at the time of Spencers death.
Kelly allegedly forced Spencer to perform a sex act before she was suffocated with a plastic bag.
Dozier and Kellys half sister, Courtney Nicole Kelly, both 23, also are charged with murder in the case.
In separate hearings Tuesday, Jones and Michael Brett Kelly pleaded not guilty to the charges against them. Jones was led from the courtroom after her hearing, and several minutes passed before Kelly was ushered in.
During Kellys hearing, Superior Court Judge Tripp Self said again that he wants to try the cases as soon as possible. In previous hearings, he has said he wants to take the cases to trial by next summer.
I still think we can hit the same goal, he said Tuesday.
Jones and Kelly are being represented by state-funded capital defenders. Jones lawyers are based in Macon, while Kellys are based in Brunswick.
Jones lawyers have filed more than 40 motions so far. Several are boilerplate challenges common in death penalty cases relating to the constitutionality of the death penalty, the states murder statute and execution by lethal injection.
Others request that proceedings be recorded, that prosecutors hand over any evidence that might be helpful to the defense and that defense attorneys be provided GBI and other scientific reports.
The lawyers also have asked that the judge issue an order limiting pretrial publicity either by banning cameras from the courtroom or by limiting the number of cameras and camera operators.
A motion to move the trial away from Bibb County has not been filed.
Brett Kelly pleaded guilty in May to murder, aggravated sodomy, aggravated assault, burglary, false imprisonment and theft as part of a plea deal to avoid the death penalty if convicted at trial. He took back his plea June 24, however.
All four defendants are being held at the Bibb County jail.
To contact writer Amy Leigh Womack, call 744-4398.