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Here’s where this 2019 Dawson County death penalty case stands
Court file photo
File photo. - photo by Julia Hansen

More than 50 pretrial motions remain outstanding in the case of a Dawson County man facing the death penalty after being charged with his wife’s 2019 killing. 

During a Dec. 22 status hearing, lawyers discussed how to move forward with proceedings next year in the case of 47-year-old Jeremy Wade Gibson. Northeastern Judicial Circuit judge Clint Bearden is presiding over the case. 

The 56 motion-count does not include any additional motions and two others allowing the defense to reserve the right to file more, said one of Gibson’s lawyers, Laura Cobb. 

A trial has not yet been set for Gibson.

Charges

Gibson is accused of allegedly shooting his wife, Amy, multiple times in front of their five and eight-year-old children in the Fire Station no. 7 parking lot on July 29, 2019. Firefighters and their family members were present at the time of the shooting. 

His and Amy’s two children, who were in her car during the incident, were uninjured. Her sister was later granted custody of the children. 

Gibson was arrested and later indicted on two counts of felony murder, cruelty to children in the first degree, family violence-related aggravated assault and possession of a firearm or knife during commission of a crime. 

He has been detained at the Dawson County Detention Center since his arrest and is the jail’s longest inmate, Bearden said at a previous 2022 hearing.

This story continues below.

Delays

At a March 2022 hearing, Senior Assistant District Attorney Conley Greer acknowledged how scheduling court dates has been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, shutdown of the trial process and subsequent backlog of cases.

“The only thing I ask is that we get a trial date,” Greer said at that hearing. “There is a victim in this case, and that family isn't satisfied at all with this.” 

Two attorneys are legally required for capital defendants such as Gibson, Bearden said at the Dec. 22 hearing. Attorneys for Georgia’s Capital Defender Office act as public defenders for indigent defendants in death penalty cases. 

The withdrawal of both Gibson’s former attorneys from the case also delayed proceedings, Georgia Capital Defender Jerilyn Bell explained at the June hearing. Bell has been temporarily filling in with Gibson’s case to keep the court updated. 

This past fall, Gibson’s previous second chair withdrew from his case. Then, the head of the  regional capital defender’s office, which is based in Athens, stepped down from his position earlier in 2022. Typically, that person would serve as the first chair. 

During the March hearing, Bell said that losing two attorneys around the same time in cases “doesn’t often happen.”

That pause in proceedings allowed Gibson’s second-chair defense lawyer Laura Cobb to become barred in Georgia and for Atlanta-based Metro Capital Defender’s Office supervising attorney Christian Lamar to make an entry of appearance as Gibson’s first-chair attorney.

During the Dec. 22 hearing, Bearden also mentioned accommodating the defense lawyers’ obligations to their older death penalty cases and Gibson’s case subsequently taking priority over more recent capital ones. 

“We are blessed with resources to have the ARPA (American Rescue Plan Act) funds so a senior judge can step in and cover other calendars of mine,” Bearden added.


Outlook

Bearden voiced the court’s desire to “go ahead and be proactive” with scheduling multiple hearings for the beginning of 2023 and encouraged the lawyers involved to discuss setting dates and when to have what motions heard. 

Of the 50-plus pending motions in Gibson’s case, lawyers acknowledged that motions regarding evidence of prior acts would require a lengthier motion hearing.

An in-person status hearing is scheduled for Jan. 6, where lawyers plan to address at minimum a motion related to victim impact matters.

Bearden reiterated the court’s desire to “be prepared to know what’s coming” and make a “productive use of time” in the 2023 hearings. 

DCN will continue to follow this court case. 


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