By Daniel Silliman
Ruling in the county's first murder trial in juvenile court, Judge Steven Teske spoke directly to 17-year-old Jeffrey Winslow.
The young defendant sat on the right side of the courtroom, on the third floor of the annex to the historic courthouse, wearing a brown suit for the third day, shackles around his feet.
He watched as the judge told him he was guilty of shooting to death 16-year-old Edward "Boo Man" Mills, during an argument over money and marijuana.
"I believe that was done because he did short you, and you were angry," Teske told Winslow. "Once you snatched [the marijuana], it was not necessary for you to shoot him. But you did, and that was 'malice aforethought,' which can be developed in a moment."
Teske said he weighed the witnesses' testimony, some of which was inconsistent and appeared unreliable, but he found some solid consistencies in accounts of the October 2007 shooting, at Willamsburg South apartments.
A minister, looking from a window above the crime scene, witnessed the actual drug deal, going bad. He couldn't identify Winslow, but described the argument between the two men and described what Winslow was wearing.
Another witness, a young man who lived behind the apartment complex off of Flint River Road, described seeing Winslow run away. He identified Winslow without hesitation, Teske said, and the minister and the young man agreed on a number of precise details.
"Two different witnesses, who didn't know each other, who haven't talked, said exactly the same thing," the judge said.
Winslow's attorney, Leon Hicks, tried to establish an alibi defense with testimony from Winslow's mother and sister, but Teske didn't believe it.
"I hear testimony a lot, from parents and loved ones who do believe, do believe, their son was there ... but I can't ignore the fact that even you [Winslow] yourself, put yourself at the scene of the murder. You admitted to the main fact," Teske said.
The judge then found the 17-year-old guilty of malice murder and possession of a weapon during the commission of a crime. There was no jury at the trial, because it was in juvenile court.
Juveniles charged with murder are automatically treated as adults in Georgia, but have to be indicted by a grand jury within 180 days. The Clayton County District Attorney's office missed the deadline in the Winslow case, apparently because the office's investigator didn't know the law and the chief assistant district attorney started counting from the wrong date.
The prosecutors appealed for an extension to keep the case in Superior Court, but couldn't prove they had "good cause" to miss the deadline. The Superior Court Judge found the District Attorney's Office was "negligent" in the way it handled the case, and Winslow was sent to juvenile court.
The trial marked the first time in county history where a murder suspect was tried as a juvenile.
The 17-year-old was facing a maximum possible sentence of life in prison in Superior Court. In juvenile court, he faces a maximum possible sentence of "restrictive custody" until his 21st birthday -- in four years.
Teske scheduled the sentencing for Dec. 4.
Tammy Mills, the mother of the murdered boy, said she worries Winslow will get out of jail in four years and feel like he's "gotten away with it," and end up killing some other mother's boy.
In four years, Mills said, Winslow will be free, but she will still be paying for her son's funeral.