On Thursday after nearly 20 years, it finally ended for Shaun K. Metoyer.
He was just 17 when he was sentenced to life in prison after being convicted of being one of the gunmen involved in a series of muggings that plagued the city in April 1998.
Metoyer spent 18 years in prison before a habeas corpus petition was granted based on ineffective assistance of counsel during his trial, and during his initial appeal, which was denied. The Georgia Supreme Court affirmed the reversal of Metoyer’s conviction earlier this year.
“He knows he’s been given a second chance,” said defense attorney Keith Johnson. Metoyer has been taught a lifetime message about being around the wrong crowd, Johnson said.
Since his release, Metoyer has gone back to school and maintained full-time employment.
Judge John Flythe accepted the negotiated plea Thursday. Metoyer pleaded guilty in Richmond County Superior Court to one count of theft. He was sentenced to 10 years probation under the First Offender Act with credit for time served, meaning his sentence has been completed.
In 1998, after more than a dozen armed robberies, Toine L. Daniels and Nicholas Nichols, both 17, were in a car matching the description of the getaway vehicle in a April 23 mugging that year. Officers found the victim’s purse in the car. Daniels and Nichols confessed and implicated Metoyer. No physical evidence linked Metoyer to the crimes nor did any victim identify him.
At trial, Daniels and Nichols testified against Metoyer. Both said they got no benefit from their testimony. However, their original prison sentences of 25- and 55 years were reduced to 10 years. Although the resentencing was part of the plea deals struck for Daniels and Nichols, it never came out at trial. Both later recanted.
The first time Metoyer met his defense attorney was 20 minutes before his trial began, Johnson said Thursday.
Johnson was tried along with Ricardo Cartledge in 1999. Both were convicted and sentenced to life in prison. Cartledge’s appeal to the Court of Appeals, like Metoyer’s, failed.
A fifth man, Coleman Duncan, pleaded guilty to a reduced charge of theft. He was sentenced to 10 years on probation.
Reach Sandy Hodson at (706) 823-3226 or firstname.lastname@example.org