Originally created 05/01/01

Trial gets step closer for youth



An Augusta teen-ager charged in the shootings of three other teens, two of whom were killed, is quickly headed toward a death penalty trial.

On Monday, defense attorneys David Weber and Paul David tried to convince a judge that Marcus R. Moore's right to a jury of his peers in Richmond County Superior Court would be compromised if he were tried before the county's jury clerk adjusts the jury pool to reflect the demographics of the 2000 census.

Mr. Moore, 17, has pleaded not guilty to charges of murder and aggravated assault in the Nov. 24 afternoon attack on four teen-agers in a Westwood Village apartment. Neiteka Wesbey, 18, and Corey McMillan, 18, suffered fatal gunshot wounds. Larry Sanders, 19, was wounded, and Monique C. Hicks, 18, was shot at but not hit.

"If they want to put our client to death, they have to go through a little extra trouble to ensure our client has a fair and impartial trial," Mr. Weber said.

He referred to the recently released 2000 census, which breaks down the Richmond County population of adults older than 18 as 49.8 percent white and 45.8 percent black. The current jury pool population is 62 percent white adults, Mr. Weber said.

A census report alone isn't proof of discrimination, District Attorney Danny Craig countered. There must also be proof of purposeful discrimination, and in Richmond County the jury clerk has consistently adjusted the jury pool over the years to reflect the changing demographics of the community. The jury clerk has until 2002 to make the adjustments based on the most recent census, he said.

Judge J. Carlisle Overstreet denied the defense motion challenging the current jury pool.

One issue remains for Mr. Moore's pretrial hearings: the admissibility of victim-impact statements from family and friends of the teen-agers who were shot to death the day after Thanksgiving.

Mr. Moore has been held in jail without bond since his arrest. Sheriff's investigators say Mr. Moore went to the apartment where Mr. McMillan lived to demand a notebook containing details and rules of the Folks gang.

A trial date could be set after the next pretrial hearing, scheduled for May 23.

Reach Sandy Hodson at (706) 823-3226.