Defense for high-profile Gwinnett County murder-for-hire case wants charges dismissed

A defense lawyer in a high-profile murder-for-hire case is asking for charges to be dropped citing a speedy trial demand.

But the prosecution says not so fast and they expect the trial to start next week.

Gwinnett County’s Chief Assistant District Attorney John Melvin says just last month the D.A.’s office got a conviction on malice murder and more against the gunman in the killing of a woman.

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But this speedy trial issue involves the case against Stoney Williams, the man who allegedly hired the killing, and Melvin says the victim’s family and the people of Georgia deserve for his trial to go forward and he fully expects it to next week.

Melvin alleges Williams hired a hit on someone once close to him, his ex-girlfriend and partner in a car dealership, Courtney Owens.

Melvin acknowledges a speedy trial issue raised by the defense has made it a closer call than he would’ve preferred.

“By all outward appearances, (the judge is) gonna rule in our favor consistent with the law,” Melvin told Channel 2 Investigative Reporter Mark Winne.

A motion by Williams’ defense says Williams, through his lawyer, filed a speedy trial demand and through his lawyer, Williams has appeared and announced “ready for trial” at every calendar call for the full three terms of court that his cases have been called for trial.

It suggests the prosecution could’ve tried Williams immediately after it convicted co-defendant Wesley Vickers last month, but now it is too late.

Channel 2 Action News sent court filings from both sides to attorney Manny Arora for analysis.

“They let the clock run out on this guy. And the state should be the one being held to task and not the defendant,” Arora said.

Arora says the defense’s position is because the speedy trial time expired for the first indictment to try him on the murder and aggravated assault charges would be double jeopardy, meaning you can’t be charged with crimes for which you have already been acquitted.

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Melvin says he was not directly involved at the time, but there was confusion for a time over when the speedy trial time would expire and the state maintains the defense basically agreed to a trial date this month - so the speedy trial issue was effectively waived.

A document indicates that last year the Williams side asked the court to enter a not guilty plea.

Winne reached out to current defense attorney Robert Booker by phone on Tuesday for comment and got a text response that he was busy meeting with a client.

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