The hearings scheduled in the case against the individuals charged for the murder of Tattnall County native Bobby Kicklighter have been delayed over a lack of payments made to the defense counsel.
Nathan Weekes appeared in Tattnall County Superior Court Tuesday morning for what was slated to be a hearing on a host of motions pertaining to Weekes’ death penalty case. Weeks is an inmate in the Georgia Department of Corrections and has been for almost a decade, including during the time period of the murder of Kicklighter.
The hearing, however, did not take place because Weekes’ attorneys, Gerald Word and Jimmy Berry, filed notice of intent to withdrawal as counsel. Word told the court that Weekes completed an application to be deemed indigent because he has no source of income.
Under Georgia law, it is up to defense counsel to determine whether or not a defendant is, in fact, indigent and the state has no interest in the matter.
Following the review of the application for indigence, Judge Jay Stewart determined that Weekes met the qualifications and Stewart ordered Weekes to be counseled by the Georgia Capital Defender’s Office.
This is the second time Weekes has changed legal counsel, previously being represented by Atlanta-based defense attorney Brian Steele. Steele withdrew last fall.
Criminal defense attorney Frank Hogue told the PrisonTown podcast that the defense for a death penalty case can cost upwards of $500,000 by the time the case concludes.
Weekes’ co-defendant, Christopher Reginald Sumlin, Jr., is already represented by two attorneys in the Capital Defender’s Office.
Another court date has been slated for the end of the month, but will only be for procedural first appearance purposes.
Weekes did ask to address the court before the conclusion of the hearing, which Stewart said he would allow but asked Weekes to confer with his legal counsel first. Word announced that Weekes wished to express his grievances over the fact that he has not been getting fed regularly and has not been allowed to make family phone calls. Word said that when they’ve gone to meet with him at the Special Management Unit in Jackson, Weekes has complained that he “hadn’t eaten in a day or so.”
Word, who said Weekes has filed a number of grievances with GDC, asked the court to direct the Georgia Department of Corrections to provide Weekes with the accommodations that “all inmates are entitled to.”
“I would say that this is one of the reasons we’re not able to be paid, in some cases,” Word told the Court.
“So, you want me to instruct GDC to do their job?” Stewart asked.
“Yes, your honor.”
“Consider it done. GDC is instructed to do their job.” Stewart said.