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Quadruple murder defendants plead not guilty

POSTED: January 22, 2008 5:04 a.m.
Two of the three defendants charged in a March 2006 massacre at a Forsyth County farmhouse entered formal not guilty pleas in a Thursday court appearance.

The arraignment of Jason McGhee, 27, and Marcin Sosniak, 23, was held in front of Bell-Forsyth Superior Court Judge David Dickinson. The two men did not speak. Their pleas were entered by their attorneys, Josh Moore of the Georgia Office of the Capital Defender and Cumming lawyer Charles Haldy. Thursday’s court appearance was a routine procedure in a case that could stretch on for some time. District Attorney Penny Penn said she doubts any of the defendants will stand trial before 2009.

McGhee and Sosniak, along with 25-year-old Frank Ortegon, face the possibility of the death penalty if convicted of murder in the shooting deaths of four people in a hangout off Ronald Reagan Boulevard.

Lynn Bartlett, 55, Mariel Hannah, 18, Kyle Jones, 17, and Billy Osment, 15, were killed in the March 19, 2006, rampage. Witnesses have identified McGhee as the primary shooter. According to court testimony, Sosniak had earlier clashed with one of the residents of the home over a marijuana deal. The three suspects are accused of bursting into the home and shooting and stabbing the occupants. Hannah was allegedly shot in the head as she spoke on the phone with 911 operators.

District Attorney Penny Penn announced her intent to seek the death penalty against all three men last year. Each defendant faces 20 charges.

The defendants waived formal reading of the indictment Thursday. Ortegon will be arraigned in a separate hearing before Chief Superior Court Judge Jeffrey Bagley on Jan. 18.

Defense attorneys in the case have yet to file the pretrial motions that are prevalent in death penalty cases, asking for an extension of time to go over the voluminous evidence files in the case. Dickinson will hold hearings in late April to schedule motions hearings in the cases. Each defendant must be tried separately. The three men remain jailed with bond set at $2 million.



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