Attorneys for the defendant accused of killing 19-year-old Kaleb Duckworth have filed a motion in Dawson County Superior Court for their client’s trial to be moved to another location.
Defense lawyers John Luke Weaver and Michael A. Ray submitted the motion on behalf of 20-year-old Daniel Lee Roberts.
He has been indicted on two counts of felony murder and one count each of aggravated assault and aggravated battery relating to Kaleb’s death.
Roberts also has a separate pending aggravated assault case in Dawson County. He was out on bond in that case when he allegedly punched Kaleb with a closed fist during their fight at the Dawson County Applebee’s on July 25, 2021. Roberts’ action allegedly caused the teen to incur serious brain damage. After the fight, Kaleb was taken to a hospital with severe brain trauma and died two days later.
Bond for the 2021 case was initially denied, and following his July arrest, bond for the older case was subsequently revoked in August 2021.
In December, after a pretrial hearing, bail for Roberts was set at $100,000, for a total $110,200 bond. He was released from Dawson County Sheriff’s Office custody on Dec. 23.
During a hearing earlier this spring, Superior Court Chief Judge Kathlene Gosselin predicted a late summer 2022 trial for Roberts.
Roberts’ change of venue motion asks for his case to be moved to a county of “similar population and diversity” since the setting of trial, elaborating that the setting of the trial would be prejudicial, particularly when it would come to jury selection.
The motion mentioned DCN’s 14 separate articles about Roberts’ 2021 case, including Kaleb Duckworth’s obituary. It also pointed to billboards about Kaleb posted along heavily-trafficked portions of Ga. 53 and Ga. 400, as well as consistent social media posts from family and friends of the late teen.
Recently, Roberts’ defense attorneys also filed a motion for the prosecution not to use the word “murder” in a trial court setting, calling the term “inflammatory and prejudicial.”
That motion reasoned that even a judge or district attorney’s instruction after the word’s use would not negate or cure its impact on the average juror.
Additionally, the prosecution filed a May 12 motion saying that Kaleb’s parents, Amanda and Tommy Duckworth, should be allowed to stay in the courtroom for the duration of Roberts’ trial.
Duckworth’s parents would help the state to provide in-life identification of their son, a common aspect of a murder trial.
The state’s motion argued that the late teen’s parents shouldn’t be excluded since they are just providing in-life identification and not any additional testimony.
“Because Tommy and Amanda Duckworth are necessary and material witnesses in this case and their presence in the courtroom would not impair the conduct of a fair trial,” said the motion, “the State requests that the court grant this motion to allow them to remain in the courtroom for the entirety of the proceedings.”
DCN will continue to follow this case and provide updates.