A Superior Court judge dealing with several pretrial issues in attorney William Lumpkin's capital murder case ruled Friday that District Attorney Danny Craig was not in contempt of court.
Mr. Lumpkin's defense attorneys asked Judge John H. Bailey Jr. of the Northern Judicial Circuit to find Mr. Craig in contempt and issue sanctions against him. They alleged Mr. Craig obstructed their defense work on Mr. Lumpkin's behalf.
Mr. Lumpkin, 50, is accused of killing 64-year-old Stan White, the real estate agent who held the deed to Mr. Lumpkin's Evans home. Investigators allege Mr. Lumpkin lured Mr. White to his downtown Augusta law office and beat him to death on Sept. 1, and then dumped his body in the Savannah River. If convicted of murder, prosecutors will seek the death penalty.
Friday morning in Richmond County Superior Court, three sheriff's investigators involved in the case testified they didn't attend the last hearing in Mr. Lumpkin's case, held April 7, because Mr. Craig advised them they could just remain on call. They also testified Mr. Craig said they didn't have to meet with Mr. Lumpkin's defense attorneys on April 22 unless ordered by a judge to do so or subpoenaed to a meeting.
"At some point somebody's not telling the truth," attorney Michael Mears argued to Judge Bailey. It was unbelievable, he said, that a prosecutor would tell the officers under subpoena by the defense team, that they could just remain on call and then not tell the court or defense attorneys about that, Mr. Mears said.
Although Judge Bailey denied the defense's request to find Mr. Craig in contempt of court, they finally did get to question the sheriff's investigators on Friday. They asked about the investigators' interaction with the Augusta Judicial Circuit Superior Court judges while investigating Mr. White's homicide.
Friday's hearing was a continuation of the April 7 hearing before Judge Bailey. He was assigned to determine if the Augusta Judicial Circuit judges should be recused from Mr. Lumpkin's case as the defense requests.
Judge Bailey said he should be able to give an answer to that question sometime during the week of Sept. 8.
Although nearly a year has passed since Mr. White's slaying and Mr. Lumpkin's Sept. 9 arrest on murder charges, prosecuting and defense attorneys haven't held the first pretrial hearing yet to deal with issues of Mr. Lumpkin's capital murder trial.
No trial date has yet been set, and Mr. Lumpkin has been held without bond since his arrest.