Bottleneck on trip to Georgia’s death row
12:05 pm, November 14th, 2011
An in-depth Sunday story by Jim Mustian in the Columbus Ledger-Enquirer shines a spotlight on delays in the mandatory appeals of three capital cases stalled at square one in Muscogee County Superior Court.
The oldest of the three murder convictions was in 1992 – only a year after the Troy Davis conviction. But unlike Davis, who maintained his innocence up until his execution, James Andrews confessed to killing Viola Hicks after breaking into her house to rob her. The Ledger-Enquirer story quotes him telling the jury that after he bludgeoned the Sunday school teacher to death with her iron skillet, he realized her mutilated appearance reminded him of what he “felt like on the inside,” and that he bent down, kissed her and told her he was sorry.
The Andrews motion for a new trial – the first small step in the appeal — has been pending in since 1993, according to the Ledger-Enquirer, which also noted two others “similarly stalled at square one” in Columbus. The article quotes defense attorneys saying they had no motivation to push for movement on the appeals, since that would push their clients toward execution, and that the judges in the cases have retired.
The Ledger-Enquirer credits Muscogee County Superior Court Chief Judge John D. Allen with stepping up efforts to resolve old cases by creating a new docketing system and scheduling upcoming hearings.
Ironically, the story also quotes the daughter of Andrews victim saying that her mother “was a true Christian” and did not believe in the death penalty. The daughter said she doesn’t believe in the death penalty either, but still expressed frustration with letting the appeal languish for nearly two decades. Catheryn Hollis told the Ledger-Enquirer: “If they’re going to give you the death penalty, they should go ahead and get it over with.”