Judge denies venue change in McDuffie slaying trial

THOMSON — The trial of a Dearing man accused in the 2011 slaying of his ex-wife who was dragged several miles after her death will remain in McDuffie County, a judge ruled Wednesday.

 

Chief Superior Court Judge Roger Dunaway made the decision after a hearing that sought to change the venue in the case against Ricky Charles Wells.

Wells and his girlfriend, Tina Wells, of Boneville, are charged in the Sept. 29, 2011, death of Jennifer Kitchens Wells, 36, of Gibson, Ga.

Both the Toombs Circuit Public Defenders Office and Tina Wells’ attorney, Lucy Bell, requested the trial be held elsewhere because of concerns that news coverage of the slaying would make it difficult to gather an unbiased jury.

Dunaway decided to keep the trial in Thomson, though, after procedural discussions and testimony from news media representatives subpoenaed by defense attorneys. The death penalty is not being sought in the case.

District Attorney Dennis Sanders told the judge that he had spoken with Tina Wells’ attorney and that they had agreed to not conduct a change of venue hearing for her client Wednesday and that the defendants would be tried separately.

Ricky Wells’ trial is expected first, possibly in January. Dunaway agreed to delay a change of venue hearing for Tina Wells until after his trial. Her trial will be scheduled on the court calendar after that time.

Ricky and Tina Wells are charged individually and as co-conspirators with malice murder, two counts of felony murder, one count of aggravated assault, one count of armed robbery, three counts of possession of a firearm during the commission of a felony and three counts of aggravating circumstances.

The indictment states that Jennifer Wells’ death was outrageously and wantonly vile, horrible and inhuman in that it involved depravity of mind because the victim was shot several times and dragged behind a motor vehicle for several miles.

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