Monday, 30 August 2010

SBS: GEORGIA: Shaken baby trial delayed again

by Lydia Senn
The trial of two Floyd County residents charged with murdering an infant will not proceed as planned this week, a judge decided after a hearing Monday.Attorneys for both Shamekia Shantell Byars, 26, and Mike Reggie Haynes, 30, filed motions to dismiss the case earlier, citing prejudice and violation of due process rights and the right to a speedy trial.At issue was the length of time it took to indict the two defendants. Byars and Haynes were indicted in 2009, charged with the November 2005 death of Byars’ daughter, Sha’niya L. Moses. Haynes was Byars’ live-in boyfriend at the time.The baby died as a result of severe head and brain injures believed to have been caused by physical abuse, according to the indictment. The couple is accused of not only injuring the baby but also delaying medical treatment after the child was injured. Their trial was set to begin Monday, but will be delayed while Floyd County Superior Court Judge Tami Colston considers the defense’s motion.The defense argues that the case was unreasonably delayed, stating the pair’s rights to due process were violated because the case is now more than five years old and it took more than four years for Byars and Haynes to be indicted.However, Assistant District Attorney John Tully said one reason the indictment was delayed was because the DA’s office had to launch its own investigation when they picked up the case nearly a year after the police investigation was completed.Tully also said law enforcement “dropped the ball” during the investigation, and until the autopsy report was issued there was no firm evidence that the baby had been murdered.“This is one of the most complex medical exams,” Tully said.Colston asked prosecutors if they feared another child in the couple’s custody would have been harmed if an indictment had not been pursued, and they said they did.“We are talking about due process. There is no statute of limitation for murder. Every defendant does have a due process right,” Colston said.The judge said she would reach a decision on whether or not to continue with a trial by the end of the week.“Any delay is going to prejudice the defendant. Memories fade,” Colston said.

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