Originally created 05/08/02

Lawyers seek delay in slaying trial



A judge could decide this week whether to keep May 20 as the opening date for the death penalty trial of Katherine Melissa Conway, who is charged in the 1995 execution-style killing of an Augusta couple.

Three and a half years after Ms. Conway's indictment, defense attorneys Maureen Floyd and Hugh Hadden asked for even more time to prepare for trial. The defense team said Tuesday that they needed to view crime scene photographs and listen to taped statements, which they say the prosecution has not provided.

"There is no way I could be ready to try this case in 13 days," Ms. Floyd said during a hearing before Superior Court Judge Carl C. Brown Jr.

Jury selection is set to begin May 20.

Mr. Hadden spent more than two hours Tuesday questioning court officials about how they selected a pool of jurors. He then argued that the judge should strike the pool because the "panel had not been properly constituted."

Judge Brown denied his request, saying the attorney had presented no evidence that there was a systematic exclusion of a certain class of people.

The judge is expected to decide this week whether a delay is needed to allow defense attorneys to appeal his earlier ruling allowing the prosecutor to seek the death penalty. The attorneys said Ms. Conway's rights were violated when District Attorney Danny Craig waited 18 months after she was indicted to file notice that he was seeking the death penalty.

Ms. Conway, 30, has pleaded innocent in the 1995 slayings of Timothy Hale, 23, and Rhonda Warren, 28, who were shot in their mobile home on Eidson Drive on Nov. 3, 1995.

Confessed hitman David Bates pleaded guilty to criminal solicitation and was sentenced in September to five years in prison after admitting that he served as the middleman in the killings-for-hire. He is expected to testify against Ms. Conway and his son, Keane A. Bates, 38.

Investigators contend that David Bates, 57, put his son and Ms. Conway in touch with gunman Richard Breedlove when they allegedly asked him to find a killer Nov. 3, 1995. Mr. Hale's family said he had previously dated Ms. Conway.

Keane Bates could be tried as early as July.

Mr. Breedlove was sentenced in September to two consecutive life sentences plus 25 years in prison after pleading guilty to murder, burglary and weapons charges.

Reach Greg Rickabaugh at (706) 828-3851 or greg.rickabaugh@augustachronicle.com.