Death-penalty trial is delayed

A Richmond County judge filed a continuance order Tuesday to delay the start of a death penalty trial related to an August 2009 homicide.

Superior Court Judge David Roper wrote that the trial was continued because the lead counsel for Kelvin Johnson is scheduled to try an older death penalty case in Cobb County June 6, the day Johnson's trial was scheduled to start.

District Attorney Ashley Wright filed papers to seek the death sentence for Johnson, 26, in October 2009 after Johnson was indicted on charges of aggravated assault, armed robbery, burglary, and the murder of 69-year-old Martha Greene in her home on Aug. 26, 2009. Lawyers made their appearances for the case in December 2009, according to Tuesday's filing.

Johnson rode up on a bicycle and pulled a gun on Tilmaan Coley "T.C." Greene in Greene's open garage, according to previous reports and court proceedings. Investigators believe Johnson then shot Greene in the face before going inside and shooting Martha Greene.

Following the shooting, Johnson fled the scene with a big-screen TV and the couple's Chevrolet pickup. He was arrested later that night in his home on Boykin Road.

Johnson pleaded not guilty to all charges during pretrial hearings in February 2010. If a jury does convict Johnson, it could also sentence him to life in prison with or without parole, according to past reports in The Augusta Chronicle .

In his filing Tuesday, Roper wrote that "the court abhors extraordinarily long delays" that can affect the memories of witnesses or "undermine public confidence in the judicial system." Roper added that the court and the defense counsel have been discussing the continuance for the past five to six months, and the court expects the defense to quickly address any remaining issues so the trial can begin soon.

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