The trial of three remaining defendants in the 2011 homicide of "good Samaritan" Blanchard Thomas has been set for Oct. 15, the day after Columbus Day.
The case had to be postponed when defense attorney Stacey Jackson discovered Chief Assistant District Attorney Al Whitaker previously represented Jackson's client, Jody Perry. Muscogee Superior Court Judge William Rumer disqualified Whitaker from prosecuting the case because of the apparent conflict.
That compelled District Attorney Julia Slater to find someone else to take the case. On Wednesday, Senior Assistant District Attorney Don Kelly told Rumer he would take on that task.
Besides Perry, the defendants include Joel Thomas Jr., who is not related to the victim, Michael Ingram, Keedra Brummitt and Donnie Forte. Each is charged with three counts of murder and one each of kidnapping, armed robbery, and using a firearm to commit a crime.
Ingram and Brummitt are expected to testify for the prosecution.
Blanchard Thomas, 44, was the pastor of the Mt. Missouri Baptist Church in Pittsview, Ala. On March 8, 2011, he gave a girl a ride from Russell County, where she claimed she had been sexually assaulted.
When he dropped her off at a home north of the Booker T. Washington Apartments, her family suspected he was involved in her assault. So Ingram, Forte and Joel Thomas got into the minister's vehicle and had him drive them to Broadway while Brummitt and Perry followed in Brummitt's car, police said.
At the dead end of Broadway under the Oglethorpe Bridge, passersby found Blanchard Thomas slumped in the vehicle around 4:20 p.m. that day. He had been shot in the right cheek and left to die.
Whitaker was disqualified because he represented Perry in a drug case in 2006, when Whitaker was in private practice. He became chief assistant district attorney when Slater took office in 2009.