Stacey Schoeck, who could face the death penalty if convicted of hiring a man to kill her husband in 2010, likely will testify against her alleged co-conspirator next week.
In exchange, Hall County’s district attorney won’t seek the death penalty against her, according to statements made Thursday in Hall County Superior Court.
Schoeck’s former co-worker, Lynitra Ross of Austell, will stand trial for what prosecutors say was her role in the 2010 Valentine’s Day slaying of Richard Schoeck in Belton Bridge Park.
Ross is accused of being the go-between for Stacey Schoeck and accused triggerman Reginald Coleman, also of Austell. Prosecutors say Stacey Schoeck paid Coleman $10,000 to kill her husband at the Lula park on the banks of the Chattahoochee River.
Ross, they say, connected Schoeck, her supervisor at a DeKalb County spine clinic, with Coleman.
Prosecutors plan to seek the death penalty against Coleman.
According to statements made in court Thursday, they likely will seek the same punishment for Schoeck if she refuses to testify in Ross’ trial.
If Schoeck testifies, she will plead guilty to murder and avoid the death penalty.
“We expect her to be testifying truthfully,” District Attorney Lee Darragh told Hall County Superior Court Judge Jason Deal.
Ross’ attorneys likely will emphasize the deal with prosecutors in their cross-examination if Schoeck testifies, asking “what happens if you don’t do this?” Ross’ attorney, Rodney Williams, said.
Attorneys for both the defense and the prosecution refused to comment after the hearing.
Ross will not be handcuffed during her trial, and Deal said Thursday that he will allow her to wear clip-on earrings during court proceedings. Both are efforts at keeping the jury from knowing that she is currently incarcerated and making assumptions of guilt or innocence.
The trial of Ross, the first of three alleged to have conspired to kill Richard Schoeck, is expected to last nearly two weeks.
Because of a county furlough day, the trial won’t begin until Tuesday.
State prosecutors plan to present all of their evidence by the end of the first week. Jurors, who were chosen Thursday, have been instructed to make arrangements to miss work until the Memorial Day holiday.
Deal, too, is planning for long days in the courtroom, offering his office refrigerator to attorneys who might want to bring lunch to court.
The Hall County jury, including two alternates, that will decide Ross’ fate comprises seven women and seven men.
Originally, defense attorneys sought to move the trial, citing the saturation of pretrial publicity and its impact on Ross’ ability to receive a fair trial.
Deal has allowed the case to continue in Hall.
A few of the potential jurors said during a jury selection process this week that they knew many details about the case.
Deal has also instructed the jury to stay away from local news, to refrain from visiting the scene of the crime and to avoid posting about the case on social media sites like Facebook or Twitter.