Several motions were heard Tuesday in the death penalty case of accused murderer Cobey Wade Lakemper, one of which could delay the trial for months.
Lakemper seemed alert and attentive, passing notes back and forth with his legal team throughout the afternoon. Lakemper still wore a stun belt and leg shackles despite previous efforts from his lawyers to have them removed while he was in court.
Judge Samuel Ozburn presided over the hearing, during which eight motions were heard.
Lakemper's lawyers, William McGuire with the Georgia Capitol Defender's office and Anthony Carter of the Alcovy Judicial Circuit Public Defender's office, spent most of the afternoon attempting to persuade the judge to quash, or void, the indictment made by the grand jury.
McGuire argued the grand jury was not a true representation of Newton County because they were picked using data from the 2000 census.
Because Newton County had changed drastically in population and racial diversity between 2000 and 2005 when the crime occurred, McGuire said the grand jury was over represented by some groups and under represented by others.
During the course of his arguments, McGuire called a number of people to the stand to testify about the jury selection process and the growth of the county including Clerk of Court Linda Hayes and Covington/Newton County Chamber of Commerce President John Boothby.
The day ended before McGuire could call his final witness, an expert on statistical analysis. The motion will continue on July 2 at the next scheduled hearing.
The defense began the proceedings in the morning by requesting the judge prevent the prosecution from using testimony given by Lakemper earlier regarding the use of a stun belt in the courtroom.
Newton County District Attorney Ken Wynne had no objections as long as Lakemper's future testimony did not contradict his earlier statements.
McGuire also asked the judge to stop Wynne from making what he called "frivolous objections." Ozburn declined to make a ruling, noting objections depended on the circumstances and he could not know ahead of time when the objections might be unwarranted.
Ozburn did grant the defense's motion to reserve the right to file more motions at a later date. The judge also held off on ruling whether the defense was entitled to Wendy Carter's medical history.
Lakemper's allegedly shot Carter on Aug. 18, 2005, at the Comfort Inn where she worked. She died Nov. 4, 2005, from a heart attack. The medical examiner determined the heart attack was a result of complications due to the gunshot wound.
McGuire argued the medical files fell under "critical evidence" which the defense is permitted to view. He needs the records so a doctor hired by the defense can verify if Carter's death was related to the gunshot wound.
The defense had previously sent subpoenas to Carter's medical providers requesting the privileged information be sent to the court or to McGuire's office. One of these providers sent the records to the attorney's law office.
Ozburn ordered McGuire to turn the records into the court so he could view them before determining if the defense was allowed to have them.
Lakemper also faces murder charges in North Carolina for the death of a retired couple, Joyce and Dennis Covington, who were found shot to death in their home on Aug. 7, 2005. The District Attorney Stokes County, N.C., said in published reports that he plans to seek the death penalty for Lakemper as well.