It’s been nearly four years since Bibb County deputy Joseph Whitehead was shot to death while serving a no-knock warrant at a house off Montpelier Avenue
The paper case against the two men charged with murder in Whitehead’s death sits in a box now in transit between the Bibb County Superior Court Clerk’s Office and the Georgia Supreme Court.
It’s filled with more than 1,500 pages worth of court motions, rulings and transcripts. The box was shipped to Atlanta on Monday so justices can review the case before trial.
Once the paperwork is filed with the Supreme Court, it could take up to six months before the court issues a ruling, court spokeswoman Jane Hansen said.
Typically, a date is scheduled for attorneys to argue a case before the Supreme Court. Justices have two court terms to make a ruling, Hansen said.
If the case is filed this month, the court will have until mid-July to rule.
“But they may not take that long,” Hansen said.
No trial date has been set for 25-year-old Antron Fair or 24-year-old Damon Jolly. Both men could face the death penalty if convicted in the March 23, 2006, slaying at 3135 Atherton St.
The case has had several delays that have slowed the process.
District Attorney Howard Simms and defense lawyers for Fair and Jolly say they wish the process could have moved along faster.
And it took almost three months to compile records to send to the Supreme Court. Dianne Brannen, the clerk of Superior Court, said that was because her staff had to touch and copy every document associated with the case.
“It’s a very big appeal,” she said.
As recently as 2008, the trial for Jolly was scheduled to begin in Savannah by January 2009. The location was moved from Bibb County due to pretrial publicity.
But prosecutors reindicted Fair and Jolly in September 2008, adding drug and firearms offenses to the list of charges against the two men. As a result, the January 2009 trial was canceled and some of the pretrial issues decided under the original indictment had to be reargued before the court.
A hearing was held in April 2009 to determine whether a conflict of interest was caused by Fair and Jolly’s representation by staff attorneys from the Georgia Capital Defender’s Office, the state entity that provides indigent defense in capital cases.
Jolly initially was represented by two private practice attorneys paid by the state, while Fair had representation from the Georgia Capital Defender’s Office. An attorney from the Georgia Capital Defender’s Office was hired for Jolly in August 2008, after one of his private practice lawyers left the case because the state hadn’t paid him.
Superior Court Judge Tripp Self ruled in June 2009 that although he didn’t believe there was a conflict of interest, there was potential for a conflict. He removed a person working with Jolly’s legal team who was alleged to have been privy to confidential information about Fair’s case.
Self issued an order in November that the case be reviewed by the state Supreme Court before trial.
Issues that Self asked the justices to consider include his decision to deny a motion to disqualify Jolly’s lawyers due to a conflict of interest, and his ruling that the jury should determine whether Jolly and Fair intended to shoot a police officer, according to Superior Court records.
Information from The Telegraph’s archives was included in this report.
To contact Amy Leigh Womack, call 744-4398.