Suspect in 3 slayings has hearing

After an 11-month delay, pretrial hearings began Wednesday for a man suspected of killing three people, including a pregnant teen.


Adrian Hargrove, 31, has pleaded not guilty in Richmond County Superior to multiple charges. If convicted of the murder charges, a jury will determine his punishment -- death or life in prison with or without the possibility of parole.

Mr. Hargove has been held in jail without bond since his arrest in connection with the Feb. 9, 2008, stabbing deaths of an Augusta couple and their 18-year-old daughter.

Andrew Hartley Jr., 45, and Sharon Hartley, 46, were found stabbed to death in their Bennock Mill Road home. The body of Allyson Pederson, 18, who was several months pregnant, was found near the Lock and Dam Road, not far from the airport. Ms. Pederson's body had been set on fire.

On Wednesday, Mr. Hargrove appeared in court with part of his defense team. His lead counsel, who had sought another postponement of the hearing, informed Judge James G. Blanchard Jr. that he was scheduled to be in death penalty trial hearings in another Georgia courtroom.

Co-counsel Dennis C. Francis, who is also of the Georgia Capital Defenders office, told the judge he could proceed with the hearing on Mr. Hargove's behalf.

The motions discussed and ruled upon at the hearing involved procedural issues and logistics of conducting a death penalty trial.

A trial date hasn't been set. March 4 is the next tentative hearing date.

Mr. Hargrove served seven years in prison for convictions of cruelty to children and possession of cocaine.

He was released in 2006 and registered as a sex offender in Burke County, where he lived with his mother.

District Attorney Ashley Wright said she hasn't seen details of the child abuse conviction.

Reach Sandy Hodson at (706) 823-3226 or