Attorneys for suspects in a year-old murder case filed motions recently asking that the suspects not be shackled in the courtroom, that law enforcement officers not be in uniform while in court and to block the state from seeking the death penalty.
The most recent round of motions were part of several that have been filed regarding the case, said Ogeechee Judicial Circuit Assistant District Attorney Keith McIntyre.
It is not unusual for defense attorneys to file numerous motions in a death penalty case, he said.
Bulloch County Superior Court Judge John R. Turner conducted a hearing Dec. 1 to address various motions filed on behalf of Alexandra Elizabeth Futch Coulter, her husband Dustin James Coulter, Jerry James Easters," who are accused in the Nov. 21, 2005 murders of Alexandria Coulter's father and stepmother, Jack and Paula Futch.
Among 19 motions filed Dec. 1, attorneys asked that the defendants not be "shackled in public or at the counsel table;" asked to prevent "law enforcement officers from sitting in the courtroom in uniform;" and to prevent the state "from arguing for sentences of death or life without parole ...", according to information from Judith Oglesby, judicial law clerk for the Ogeechee Judicial Circuit.
"There have been no written orders filed" regarding Turner's response to the motions, she said.
Attorneys also filed motions for an order allowing Ms. Coulter to view the scene of the crimes with her attorneys, as well as to "adjourn at a reasonable time" during trial. A motion was also filed demanding a jury trial.
Jack and Paula Futch were found dead in their Windmere Drive home off Ga. 46 Nov. 21, 2005, after Ms. Coulter called 911 to report the incident. During a preliminary hearing, investigators described finding Paula Futch's body in an upstairs bedroom, Jack Futch's body in a downstairs bedroom, and Alexandria Coulter "tied up on the couch in the living room."
After questioning Dustin Coulter and Easters, who had taken a van from the residence and abandoned it off Interstate 16 and Nevils-Groveland Road, investigators detected discrepancies in testimony. After further investigation, all three were taken into custody and charged in the deaths.
All three suspects are each charged with two counts of murder and armed robbery. Easters is also charged with burglary.
Jack Futch, who suffered from terminal cancer, and his wife were stabbed to death, investigators said.
McIntyre said death penalty trials often take more time to come to trial than others because of the numerous motions defense attorneys file, as well as the time it takes to investigate and gather evidence.
Prosecutors "have to prove everything down to the 'nth' degree," he said. "It's not unusual for murder trials, especially death penalty cases, to take three years to go to trial."
The suspects in the Futch murder trial are slated to appear before Turner again Jan. 22 for a hearing on a motion to block lethal injection as an option in the death penalty, Oglesby said.
All three are being held in the Bulloch County Jail without bond.
The following are motions filed Dec. 1 by attorneys for Alexandria Elizabeth Coulter, Dustin James Coulter, and Jerry James Easters, charged in the Nov. 21, 2005 murders of Jack and Paula Futch:
• Motion to produce photographs, videotapes, and digitally enhanced or processed images.
• Motion requiring the disclosure of all known potential mitigating evidence.
• Motion to preclude (suspects) from being shackled in public or at the counsel table.
• Motion to prevent the state from arguing for sentences of death or life without parole or in the alternative to quash the indictment for failure to allege statutory aggravators that constitute elements of a capital offense.
• Motion for discovery of information necessary for a fair adjudication of sentence.
• Motion to prevent law enforcement officers from sitting in the courtroom in uniform.
• Motion for a daily transcript of all proceedings.
• Motion for the court reporter's notes and tapes to be made part of the record of these proceedings.
• Motion to have hearing set on all motions filed.
• Demand for jury trial.
• Motion to adjourn at a reasonable time.
• Motion for disclosure of similar or extrinsic act evidence and for a pretrial hearing to determine the admissibility of any acts alleged by the State to similar transaction.
• Motion for an order allowing (suspects) to view the scene of the crimes with her attorneys.
• Motion for discovery of institutional records and files necessary to a fair trial.
• Motion for disclosure of electronic surveillance.
• Motion to assure that mitigating circumstances receive their due weight and attention from the jury.
• Motion for an order expanding time for preparation for jury selection.