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Worthy motions heard in superior court

Testimony in hearings on several motions filed by embattled Morehouse police chief Vernon Worthy got underway at 1:15 today in Lamar superior court. Worthy was accompanied by no less than six attorneys and a statistician/demographer/jury consultant who addressed implied bias in the composition of the county grand and traverse jury pools. The members of the Lamar County jury commission were subpoenaed and sequestered. Worthy’s defense team is led by Byrd Garland and Pandora Palmer of Smith, Welch & Brittain. Garland opened the session, noting that the confrontation between Worthy and Nathaniel Rooks arose because both parties had permission to hunt the same land. ”This was a tense situation. It may have gotten out of hand if a trained law enforcement officer (Worthy) had not been on the scene,” Garland told Judge Tommy Wilson. What followed was a long, less-than-riveting parrying between the defense and prosecution regarding the makeup of the grand jury pool from which the grand jury that indicted Worthy was chosen. Palmer called clerk of court Frank Abbott who explained and defended the process. She also called jury commissioner George Barrett. Barrett, a black male, testified it was his responsibility to make sure the names of black males are included in the pool. The pool is supposed to reflect the racial makeup of the county based on demographics from the most recent census Testimony from the defense’s own jury consultant/statistician, Jeffery Martin, brought out that, in the case of the pool involved in the Worthy case, blacks – the defendant’s peers – were actually over represented. Census data puts blacks at 28.93% of the population but the jury pool was 35.36% black.

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