Georgia criminal lawyer wins reversal in DeKalb murder case

On Monday, the Supreme Court of Georgia reversed the convictions of two men who were found guilty of murdering a DeKalb man at his home recording studio. The DeKalb County District Attorney’s Office must now decide whether it will retry the men.

WABE News and the Atlanta Journal Constitution have the story.

Prosecutors say that Steven Manley and Robert Allen planned to rob the home of Emmett Whatley in February of 2007, because they knew he stored large sum of cash there. However, the state claims that their robbery plans went askew when Whatley was shot and killed in his front yard. After a jury trial, Allen and Manley were convicted and received life sentences for Whatley’s death.

Allen and Manley’s criminal defense attorney won a reversal of the murder convictions on appeal, since the trial judge failed to allow defense attorneys to fully cross-examine state witnesses. WABE legal analyst Page Pate told WABE listeners that, “The Supreme Court is trying to send a message to trial judges in this state that you need to let defense attorneys probe about special deals.” Specifically, Pate explained, “Any sort of benefit that may accrue to the witness by testifying for the state needs to be explored at trial.”

The Supreme Court also ruled that a statement given by Manley should have been suppressed, since the statement came after Manley had asked for an attorney. In the statement, Manley admitted to being in Whatley’s neighborhood on the night of the murder.

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