Tim Chitwood: The heat is on 'Cold Justice'

tchitwood@ledger-enquirer.comJuly 6, 2014 

A dish best served cold, it's Monday Mail.

Hotlanta

Had I world enough and time, and reliable transportation as we've no high-speed rail to Atlanta and I don't trust my used car, I would go to the Georgia Supreme Court today to hear oral arguments in the case of a Columbus man who was beat to death for soliciting sex from two sisters, one of whom lured him into a lethal trap by telling him she'd have intercourse if he bought her some cigarettes. Their boyfriends killed him.

One of the murderers is appealing his conviction based on a judge's comments to the jury pool.

It's about the darnedest thing I've ever heard.

I had no idea soliciting sex from sisters was a capital offense -- unless you were married to one of them, who found out you were hitting on the other. I always figured that would get you killed.

Also, I thought exchanging tobacco for sex was a practice that ended about 200 years ago.

Anyway, it's a heck of a case. It probably would do well on one of those TV crime shows. I'd watch it.

Hung jury

Speaking of old murder cases, here's an email sent to me and two other reporters here in reference to the Kirby Smith cold-case homicide, for which Smith's widow and an alleged lover have been charged. The case is to be featured on a cable TV show:

"I noticed the three of you have written articles regarding the arrest of Haynie and Phillips along with the involvement of the show "Cold Justice." I was wondering if you were aware that this show will be airing its episode of Kirby's Speed Shop on July 11.

"My question relates to how the airing of the show will influence the Jury pool in Columbus if this case ever goes to trial?

"For a case that is built solely on circumstantial evidence, could it be seen ridiculous to even air an episode about cold justice, if the accused never have an opportunity to defend themselves. In what ways could this episode negatively impact the integrity of the case and why has the news not pointed this out?"

Dear Reader:

I've seen enough jury selection to assure you finding folks who've no idea what's going on here isn't so difficult.

It takes a year or more to get any murder case to trial. Cold cases take longer, and by the time this one gets to jury selection, "Cold Justice" may be a faded memory.

Still, all potential jurors are asked whether they've heard about the case at hand and whether they've already formed an opinion as to the guilt or innocence of the accused.

Whether the case has been featured on a cable news show or just in local media isn't critical. What the potential juror knows, or already thinks, is all that matters.

Often those summoned to jury duty don't really know much at all, or haven't put much thought into what they've heard, no matter where they heard it.

Tim Chitwood, tchitwood@ledger-enquirer.com, 706-571-8508.

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