TIFTON — Defense attorneys for Jamie Deamtrive Underwood of Moultrie, indicted for the murder of six Hispanic men in Tift County during a home invasion rampage which took place on Sept. 30, 2005, filed a motion on Monday to postpone the May 5 trial date.

On Tuesday, Chief Judge Gary McCorvey granted the motion.

The trial has been scheduled on multiple dates in the past and all of them have been postponed. Now, nearly three years after the offenses occurred for which Underwood has been indicted, the latest trial date has been postponed again. McCorvey said in his order continuing the case that an order rescheduling the case will be filed before the end of the month.

Dennis Francis Jr. of the Georgia Capital Defender office in Atlanta, who is representing Underwood in the capital murder case, filed a Motion for Continuance of May 5, 2008 Proposed Trial Date citing a lack of funds in that office to defend Underwood.

Francis said in his motion, “In light of the current state of finances, the office (of Georgia Capital Defender) cannot afford to represent Mr. Underwood effectively by the court’s May 5, 2008, scheduled trial date. If the office were to represent Mr. Underwood under this current schedule, his rights under the sixth, eighth and fourteenth amendments of the United States Constitution would be violated.”

Francis said the GCD office doesn’t have the funds to pay for expert and investigative expenses which, he said, “are crucial components of a capital defense.” He said the court could not allow the capital case against Underwood to proceed.

According to the motion, Underwood’s attorneys have requested monies for various experts, investigative requests, records and potential witnesses in the case.

“Thus far, counsel has only been granted $10,000 by the Georgia Public Defender Standards Council,” Francis said. “This is thousands of dollars less than requested and required to provide Mr. Underwood with a proper defense.”

Francis said $5,000 of the $10,000 had been provided to defense expert Jeffrey Martin for the Grand Jury challenge. He said the remaining $5,000 had been for a witness to assist with “collateral issues in this case.”

Additionally, Francis said the amount of funding the state legislature provides for indigent capital defense has been reduced each year of the office’s existence, despite increasing demand.

“At this time the office has not been approved for its supplemental budget,” he said.

“It is evident Mr. Underwood’s attorneys will require thousands of dollars in order to fund expert and investigative expenses,” Francis said in the motion. “It is likewise evident that the office does not have the resources to pay for Mr. Underwood’s defense at this time and will not be ready to proceed at trial by May 5, 2008. If this court demands counsel to proceed at trial at this dire state, Mr. Underwood would be denied his right to effective assistance of counsel.”

In his order granting the continuance, McCorvey said the reason the motion was granted was “the failure of the legislative and executive branches of the state of Georgia to provide adequate funding for the defense in this case.”

Similar funding issues have delayed the trial of Brian Nichols, indicted for the shooting deaths of four people at the Fulton County courthouse on March 11, 2005. According to the Atlanta Journal Constitution, Nichols’ defense is requesting more funds, in addition to the $1.5 million they have already received.

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