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2 defendants in murder case request separate trials

All 3 defendants in custody at Hall County jail

POSTED: April 18, 2011 12:11 a.m.

Two of the three defendants charged with the Valentine's Day killing of Richard Schoeck in 2010 have asked that their cases be prosecuted separately, court records show.

Defense attorneys for Lynitra Ross and Reginald Coleman petitioned Superior Court Judge Jason Deal with motions to sever last week.

Ross's lawyer Rodney Williams predicted an "antagonistic" scenario between the three people charged in the case, including Stacey Schoeck, the victim's wife and third defendant.

Adding to the complexity is the prosecution's decision to seek the death penalty against Coleman, Williams said.

"The jury will have insurmountable difficulty in distinguishing the alleged acts of this defendant from the alleged acts of her co-defendants," Williams writes in the motion.

He added that Ross expected Coleman would testify on her behalf, were their cases to be separated.

Court documents state Stacey Schoeck, who was having an affair, conceived the attack; Coleman, a convicted felon, was the triggerman; and Ross, who was supervised by Stacey Schoeck at a DeKalb County spinal clinic, acted as their go-between.

Court records do not clearly indicate whether Stacey Schoeck has entered a formal plea as the third defendant in the case. Furthermore, no pre-trial motions appeared to be filed on her behalf.

The lawyers' formal requests were submitted as part of a mid-April deadline Deal set.

The progression of Coleman's case is following a rigid protocol for capital cases in Georgia known as the Unified Appeal Procedure. District Attorney Lee Darragh is the prosecutor.

Defense attorneys Christian G. Lamar and David Todd Wooten, with the Office of the Georgia Capital Defender, submitted more than 80 motions as part of Coleman's defense.

Among their requests: Coleman not be publicly shackled or wear jail clothing in court; evidentiary hearings be held in closed court sessions; and the right to petition the court for a change in the venue be reserved.

Various motions to suppress evidence were also submitted by Ross and Coleman, whose lawyers asked his prior convictions not be used at trial.

Additionally, they requested Deal establish an order in which the defendants will be tried.

A Hall County grand jury indicted the trio in June 2010 and charged them with malice murder for their alleged roles in planning and executing Richard Schoeck's killing.

The Snellville man was shot multiple times at Belton Bridge Park in North Hall, where he was planning to meet his wife for an exchange of Valentine's Day cards, officers said. She found his body and called 911 around 9 p.m.

Hall County Sheriff's Office investigators later accused the trio of a murder-for-hire scheme plotted on behalf of Stacey Schoeck. She stood to gain insurance money, investigators said.

They are each in custody at the Hall County jail.



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