PERRY -- The attorney for the accused shooter in a 2013 execution-style double homicide in Houston County is mounting an insanity defense.
Houston County Public Defender Nick White argues in court records that 21-year-old Thomas Andrew Kelley should be found not guilty by reason of insanity because he was acting under “delusional compulsion” when Shaland D. McConnell, 30, and Ruben Guillermo Miranda, 32, of California, were both shot in the back of the head with a .45 caliber Glock pistol.
Two others, 22-year-old Coleman Lawrence Crouch and 21-year-old Justice Bernard Evans, are also accused in the drug-related slayings Aug. 18, 2013, in a Chadwick Road residence where Crouch lived.
Under Georgia law, a person cannot be found guilty of a crime if acting under a “delusional compulsion ... which overmastered his will to resist committing the crime.”
Never miss a local story.
Kelley’s defense is based on at least two private psychological evaluations and one medical evaluation, with additional tests expected.
In October, Superior Court Judge George Nunn ordered a psychiatric evaluation of Kelley to determine whether he was “criminally responsible at the time of the alleged offenses” and whether he is “mentally competent” to stand trial.
The results of the evaluation at Central State Hospital are pending.
White said he was reluctant to talk about the underlying issues Kelley has to qualify him as suffering from a delusional compulsion. White also declined comment on other facts of the case.
The discovery deadline for the prosecution and defense to share evidence is the week of March 23, with the trial on the April court calendar.
But the case may not go to trial then because of the complexity that comes with dealing with expert witnesses and medical issues.
Right now, the prosecution and defense are not the driving force on when the case may be tried.
“It’s more of the timing of when all the expert evaluations will be done,” White said.
Assistant District Attorney Greg Winters, the lead prosecutor on the case, could not be reached for comment.
Kelley, Crouch and Evans were indicted in October 2013 on two counts of malice murder, two counts of felony murder, two counts of aggravated battery, two counts of concealing the death of another and one count of tampering with evidence. Each pleaded not guilty at his arraignment.
The men are accused of dumping McConnell and Miranda’s bodies in an isolated wooded area near U.S. 41, Ga. 49 and North Houston Lake Road known as Vinson Valley and cleaning up the crime scene.
Two women, Amy Patricia Walker, 19, of Macon, who authorities identified as Evans’ girlfriend at the time of the slayings, and Kristen Ann Beuthin, 19, of Loganville, were each charged with concealing the death of another and tampering with evidence. Walker and Beuthin are free on a $10,000 bond each.
As of Friday, the charges against them had neither been dismissed nor brought before a grand jury for possible indictment. Christopher E. Walker, an Atlanta-area attorney representing Walker, and David Daniell, Beuthin’s court-appointed attorney, could not be reached for comment.
Walker and Beuthin were named on the prosecution’s witness list when the case was expected to go to trial in December 2014. The prosecution successfully sought a continuance, noting the court-ordered evaluation of Kelley had not been completed at that time.
The prosecution also successfully sought a continuance when the trial had been earlier scheduled for August 2014, citing the “pending autopsy report ... and additional forensic evidence which are incomplete.”
Attorneys for Crouch and Evans are independently seeking to have them tried separately.
Based on “the admission of Coleman Lawrence Crouch and the confession of Thomas Andrew Kelley,” trying Evans at the same time would create a danger that evidence against Crouch and Kelley would be considered by jurors against Evans despite expected instructions from the court not to do so, according to a defense motion on behalf of Evans.
Evans’ Macon attorney, R. Lars Anderson, declined comment on the facts of the case.
“He’s entered a plea of not guilty, and we stand on that,” Anderson said.
In a defense motion for Crouch, attorneys noted a joint trial might influence jurors to find Crouch “guilty by mere association.” Warner Robins attorneys for Crouch -- Jeff Grube, Charles J. Walker and H. Jay Walker -- could not be reached for comment.
To contact writer Becky Purser, call 256-9559.