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Judge won’t restrict hearings access in murder case

POSTED: April 16, 2014 12:14 a.m.

A Hall County judge denied a defense motion to restrict public access to the pretrial hearings for an upcoming murder trial.

Joseph Scott Williams, 33, is accused of shooting and killing 37-year-old Adrien Lamont Thompson. Police allege Williams shot the Gainesville man multiple times on June 3 in the parking lot outside Peppers Market off E.E. Butler Parkway in Gainesville.

Thompson’s first name is spelled “Adrien” on the motions, but was spelled “Adiren” on police and earlier court documents. His name was listed as “Adrian” on his Facebook page and in his obituary.

Williams is charged with malice murder, felony murder, possession of a gun by a convicted felon, possession of a gun in commission of a crime, terroristic threats and cruelty to a child in the third degree, a misdemeanor. He has pleaded not guilty to the charges.

Judge Jason Deal granted a motion to sever the possession of a gun by a convicted felon charge from the other charges. It was among about a dozen motions he considered Tuesday afternoon in Hall County Superior Court.

Senior Public Defender Travis Williams argued the motions, to which Assistant District Attorney Shiv Sachdeva filed responses, at the two-hour hearing.

Although Deal denied a defense motion prohibiting comment from officials on the case, he said it would be wise for both sides to ask people vested in the case to withhold public comment.

“You don’t need to be posting things on Facebook; you don’t need to be publicizing your opinion on the case,” he said.

About 40 people sat together in court for the hearing, friends and family of both Thompson and Williams. Some wore commemorative T-shirts with Thompson’s likeness, and several younger people were among the crowd.

Deal said he was also not inclined to grant a change of venue solely because of interest the case garnered.

“We’ll cross that bridge when he get there,” he said, and echoing Sachdeva’s response, said publicity matters could be taken care of during jury selection.

“Hopefully we won’t get to that point, but I’m inclined to deny that motion at this time,” he added.

At the conclusion of the hearing, one of Williams’ supporters stood and asked for a word with Deal, who said she would need to take up any concerns with Williams or his attorney.

Deal set an April 28 deadline for Williams to clarify requests in several evidentiary-related motions. The next hearing is scheduled for April 29.

Those motions, including a request to exclude evidence from allegedly unlawful police searches of the defendant’s car, home and cellphone, and an interview with his spiritual adviser, could draw significant implications for the state’s evidence at trial.

Sachdeva said he needed clarification on what evidence the defense referred to, as not all of the mentioned searches yielded evidence the state intended to present at trial.


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