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Court Roundup: Landscaper murder trial, Whitehead twins
Jasmiyah and Tasmiyah Whitehead arrest mugs
Jasmiyah and Tasmiyah Whitehead on the day of their arrest

Jury selection in the death penalty case against accused murderer Pablo Fernando Maldonado began last week in Newton County Superior Court and will likely conclude early in the week of Aug. 20. The trial is expected to start soon after.

The 25-year-old is accused of being the ringleader in the murder of Rockdale landscaper Timothy Clements, whose body was found in Snapping Shoals Creek in the summer of 2009.

One defendant, Katria McClain, 19, took a plea bargain in 2010. The two other defendants, 21-year-old Brittany Beasley and 20-year-old Christian Caldwell, are both incarcerated at the Newton County Detention Center. They have not yet been to trial, nor have they accepted a plea deal.

A jury could be seated in the case as early as week's end. A death penalty trial typically takes at least a week, oftentimes longer. Following the sentencing phase, jurors then move into the penalty phase, where they decide if the defendant's actions warrant the death penalty or another, lesser, sentence.


Whitehead twins

The trial of teen twin sisters charged with murdering their mother last January, is on the calendar for the end of September in Rockdale County Superior Court before Judge Sidney Nation.

The twins were arrested May 2010 and accused of beating and stabbing to death Jarmecca "Nikki" Whitehead, 34, at their Conyers home in Bridle Ridge Walk. The then 16-year-old girls claimed they discovered their mother's bloody body that January afternoon when they returned home from school. They flagged down a deputy who was in the neighborhood on another matter for help.

The girls were re-indicted by a grand jury in early August to start things over so that the case can go to trial more quickly. They are facing aggravated assault, malice murder and felony murder charges, which are the same felony charges they were indicted under originally in mid July 2010.

The trial date has been continued several times.

Currently, the twins are being held separately in Rockdale and Newton county jails. They will have a jury trial together.