MOULTRIE, Ga. — Colquitt County Superior Court plans to hold its first jury trials since the coronavirus pandemic began more than a year ago.
Three trials are scheduled for next week, with jury selection for all three on Monday.
Jurors are to report by 9:30 a.m. Monday to the Colquitt County Annex on the corner of Central Avenue and First Street Northeast. Staff will direct some to the courtroom on the bottom floor and others to the county commissioners meeting room on the second floor, according to Deputy Clerk of Superior Court Wilma Hadley. Splitting the jurors between the two large rooms will allow them to socially distance in accordance with CDC guidelines.
Jurors are also instructed to wear face masks, Hadley said.
Chief Justice of the Georgia Supreme Court Harold Melton declared a state of emergency March 14, 2020, in response to the coronavirus pandemic. Jury and grand jury proceedings came to a halt across the state, and many other proceedings either were postponed or altered to accommodate health concerns.
Each time the order has neared its expiration, Melton has extended and sometimes modified it. His September order allowed grand jury proceedings to begin again, although it took some time to actually summon and seat jurors. Similarly, Melton’s order on March 9 of this year allowed jury trials to start, but it’s taken until early May for them to actually happen.
The three cases on the docket for next week are:
• William Eric Green, who is charged with two counts each of armed robbery, aggravated assault, kidnapping and false imprisonment, as well as one count each of fleeing/attempting to elude and obstruction of an officer. Green is accused of robbing Advance Auto Parts Feb. 8, 2019, using a handgun replica, according to his indictment. Several of those charges involve two counts because there were two victims in the store at the time of the robbery. His attempt to escape afterwards led to the fleeing and obstruction charges, according to the indictment, which was dated March 17, 2020.
• Jonathan Lloyd Hill, who is charged with trafficking methamphetamine, possession of tools during commission of a crime, possession of a drug-related object and tampering with evidence. Hill’s indictment alleges he was caught with 28 grams of a mixture containing methamphetamine as well as with scales, baggies and a glass smoking pipe on Feb. 7, 2020. The indictment also claims he destroyed some of the meth in an attempt to avoid prosecution. An article from the time of his arrest said he told Colquitt County deputies he had swallowed “a lot of meth,” but investigators reported they still found a significant quantity of the drug in his car. He was indicted Dec. 15, 2020.
• Derrick Donta Key, who is charged with one count each of theft by receiving and theft by taking. The indictment alleges he (1) had possession of a diamond cluster ring he should have known was stolen, which led to the theft by receiving charge, and (2) pawned the ring at a Moultrie pawn shop, resulting in the theft of the pawn shop’s money. Key was indicted March 17, 2020.