De­fense at­tor­ney files 18 mo­tions in Mal­don­ado death penalty case

The Covington News - - Front page - By Am­ber Pittman apittman@cov­

An at­tor­ney for ac­cused mur­derer Pablo Fer­nando Mal­don­ado on Thurs­day filed 18 mo­tions in the death penalty case against the de­fen­dant.

The 24-year-old is charged with be­ing the ring­leader in the 2009 mur­der of 53-year-old Cony­ers land­scaper Ti­mothy Cle­ments. He, along with three oth­ers — Chris­tian Cald­well, 19; Brit­tney Beasley, 20; and Ka­tria McClain, 18 — are ac­cused of kid­nap­ping Cle­ments, rob­bing him and then killing him, dump­ing his wrapped body in Snap­ping Shoals Creek. They re­port­edly stole his truck and fled to Alabama. Ac­cord­ing to McClain, who took a plea deal last year, the group planned the mur­der out the night be­fore.

Dur­ing the sta­tus con­fer- ence in court on Thurs­day, District At­tor­ney Layla Zon told Su­pe­rior Court Judge Ho­race J. John­son Jr. that she had let­ters re­cently sent to her that she be­lieved were from Mal­don­ado, al­though they were signed with the name of one of his co-de­fen­dants. The let­ters es­sen­tially clear Mal­don­ado of any wrong­do­ing and blamed a co-de­fen­dant for the mur­der.

Stephen Yekel, chief con­flict de­fender with the Ge­or­gia Pub­lic De­fender’s of­fice, has re­cently taken over Mal­don­ado’s case due to a con­flict with his pre­vi­ous at­tor­neys with the Cap­i­tal De­fender’s Of­fice. He re­quested copies of Cle­ments’ au­topsy, as well as re­ports from the Ge­or­gia Bu­reau of In­ves­ti­ga­tion Crime Lab which Zon said she would get him im­me­di­ately.

Yekel also in­formed the court that he had filed 18 mo­tions in the case Thurs­day.

“Those are by no means the last of the mo­tions,” he told John­son, ex­plain­ing that he was ba­si­cally start­ing fresh on the case and ask­ing that the court not hold that against him.

He also re­quested an ex parte or­der that the judge granted im­me­di­ately, clear­ing the court­room so that Yekel and Mal­don­ado could ad­dress the judge.

An ex parte or­der means that the other party — in this case, the pros­e­cu­tion — has not been no­ti­fied of the hear­ing or is not par­tic­i­pat­ing in it. It is gen­er­ally granted by a judge so that an emer­gency mat­ter can be de­cided by the judge.

Prior to clear­ing the court­room, Zon re­quested that the state be no­ti­fied of the gen­eral na­ture of the ex parte hear­ings and asked that the judge con­sid­ers if the is­sue truly needs to be ex parte. John­son said he be­lieved that was ap­pro­pri­ate.

John­son set a ten­ta­tive date of Aug. 24 to be­gin go­ing through the mo­tions in the case.

In Ge­or­gia, there are sev­eral ag­gra­vat­ing fac­tors that de­ter­mine el­i­gi­bil­ity for the state to seek death as pun­ish­ment. These in­clude the mur­der be­ing “es­pe­cially heinous, atro­cious, cruel, or de­praved (or in­volv­ing tor­ture),” or be­ing com­mit­ted for pe­cu­niary gain, all of which the pros­e­cu­tion al­leges Mal­don­ado is guilty of.


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