Third trial set for man in slayings of relatives

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A capital murder trial for Willie Palmer is set to begin Monday in Burke County. Again.

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Palmer  File/Staff
File/Staff
Palmer

Mr. Palmer, 54, spent a decade on death row until an appellate court discovered a glaring flaw in his conviction: a crucial prosecution witness had been paid for his information, a fact neither defense nor prosecuting attorneys knew at the time of his trial.

Mr. Palmer faces murder charges in the Sept. 10, 1995, slayings of his estranged wife, 31-year-old Brenda Jenkins Palmer, and his stepdaughter, 15-year-old Christine Jenkins.

The case has been twisted in knots since the two bodies were discovered in the tiny Vidette, Ga., house Ms. Palmer rented. The Palmers' 15-month-old daughter was found alive inside with the bodies.

The prosecution contends Ms. Palmer rented the two-room house to hide from Mr. Palmer. She had filed for divorce and obtained a restraining order against her estranged husband.

They were to appear for a court hearing on the day the bodies were discovered.

Mr. Palmer initially stood trial in Burke County Superior Court in April 1997, but it was curtailed by a mistrial. Citing extensive media coverage of the case, the judge granted a motion to move the trial out of Burke County.

In November 1997, Mr. Palmer stood trial in Washington County. The jury convicted him and set the punishment at death.

The conviction was affirmed on appeal until October 2003, when a judge learned for the first time that a critically important witness was paid $500 for his testimony.

When the Georgia Supreme Court reviewed the judge's decision to reverse the convictions, it agreed. Mr. Palmer's conviction was flawed to the point of fundamental unfairness, the court found.

On Monday, the trial starts over from the beginning.

Assistant District Attorney Ashley Wright said the attorneys hope to find impartial jurors in Burke County because so many years have passed since the double homicide and earlier trials.

The attorneys anticipate the first week will be consumed with selecting jurors. Each potential juror must be questioned individually about his or her ability to be impartial, and the ability to set punishment, if necessary, at life with or without parole or death.

Neither side has requested that the jury be sequestered, Ms. Wright said. That means jurors will be allowed to leave during breaks in the trial.

All of the witnesses have been located, Ms. Wright said. Once testimony begins, the trial could continue for five to seven days.

Reach Sandy Hodson at (706) 823-3226 or sandy.hodson@augustachronicle.com.

Comments (9) Add comment
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peonynut
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peonynut 08/12/07 - 06:47 am
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This is what happens when you

This is what happens when you don't execute them in a timely manner.

A1ILL
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A1ILL 08/12/07 - 07:12 am
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he may be guilty or he may

he may be guilty or he may not be guilty. let the truth be come out in court without paid testimony.

Chuchi
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Chuchi 08/12/07 - 07:52 am
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What a mess. I don't believe

What a mess. I don't believe I've ever heard of anyone getting paid for testimony. Who paid this witness? If Mr. Palmer is not guilty, then at least an innocent man wasn't executed. If he is guilty, then at least he hasn't been free the past 10 years to kill anyone else. Maybe the system will get it right this time. I feel so sorry for the victims' family.

juicy101
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juicy101 08/12/07 - 10:16 am
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he is guilty and should have

he is guilty and should have been taking a dirt nap by now. he belongs on boot hill, with ten toes up sleeping the big sleep.

Ms.A.Dixon
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Ms.A.Dixon 08/12/07 - 12:37 pm
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He is guilty.Why waste tax

He is guilty.Why waste tax payers time and money for this crap?We haven't heardany evidence that he didn't murder those two people,just that a witness got paid to testify.Now a child that was just a baby when all of this happened has got to here all this ,for what? He is still going to be found guilty.only the two that were murdered,Palmer and the good Lord up above knows what happened that day,so I know justice will be served and hopefully the victims can finially rest in peace.

420Time
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420Time 08/12/07 - 01:19 pm
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This is why the Saudi System

This is why the Saudi System is best-execute by sword immediately after Friday prayers. Cut the appeals by a third and let the sword fall.

nofrills
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nofrills 08/12/07 - 02:26 pm
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What we need to worry about

What we need to worry about is who paid the witness and why?

MAnd130630
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MAnd130630 08/12/07 - 02:47 pm
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I agree with BocaRaton, I've

I agree with BocaRaton, I've read about those executions even seen a few but we actually care more about a dog than we do a human.

driekdogg
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driekdogg 08/12/07 - 08:48 pm
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If he was man enough to that

If he was man enough to that to his family, than he should be man enough to accept what the Lord has in store for "Him"!!!!!

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