Pre-trial motions delay Stanley murder trial

Wanda Stanley

Wanda Stanley

The scheduled murder trial of Wanda Stanley was delayed Monday, amid pretrial motions by both the prosecution, and defense teams. The hearing on the motions is set to continue Tuesday.

Wanda Stanley was arrested at her home Jan. 7, 2009 and charged with killing her husband, John, 45. His body was found in his vehicle, in College Park, on Dec. 26, 2008. She is charged with malice murder and felony murder, for the fatal shooting which took place Dec. 20, 2008, according to police.

Attorneys argued over the use of expert witnesses in Henry County Superior Court. At times, the exchanges became so intense that Judge Brian Amero took both sides into his chambers. They returned to the courtroom later, and the judge announced that the trial would proceed on Jan. 30.

The defense team representing Stanley told Judge Amero that they did not have enough time to properly prepare for their case. Stanley is being represented by Henry County Public Defender Gary Bowman, and his assistants, Jennifer Lewis and Gerald Privin. They believe their client was battered and sexually assaulted, repeatedly, by her husband, prior to his death.

The defense team presented a motion to exclude testimony of expert witnesses about the battered woman syndrome. Attorney Lewis told Amero the prosecution did not inform the defense team of a report on its use of expert witnesses until Jan. 17.

“We don’t have time to prepare,” said Lewis. “We were to receive a notice of all witnesses 10 days before trial. We need adequate time; [these] are critical witnesses. We’re talking about an expert and expert testimony. Simply having the expert’s name is insufficient. We did not receive the report until the 17th. It is going to be 100 percent crucial what this evidence shows,” she added.

Lewis also said the defense team did not have enough time to obtain a criminal record of another witness, a brother of the deceased.

“This is a murder trial, we need to know ... We don’t have the time to get [his] criminal record,” argued Lewis.

Responding for the prosecution’s team were Henry County Assistant District Attorney Sandy Rivers and Jim Wright. They filed a motion to prohibit the defense from introducing evidence of the victim’s prior acts. “Twelve days before trial was the first time I received notice that battered person syndrome would be used, “said Rivers. “The defendant has given various versions of what happened that day. I would ask that the court deny their motion ...,” she said.

Judge Amero denied the motion to exclude the expert witnesses from testifying during the trial. However, Defense attorney Gary Bowman said he does not believe the state’s expert witnesses should be allowed to testify. “The fact is, my expert can be in here as well, which levels the playing field,” said Bowman. That’s why we have judges to make decisions lawyers can’t agree on ... My client was justified in killing a man and she should be found not guilty, and she should go home.”

As part of the pre-trial motions, College Park Police Detective Antoine Redding, and Henry County Detective John Thacker testified.

Redding told the court that Wanda Stanley called him to her house on Dec. 30, to show him cocaine she said she found at her home. He testified that she said she believed it belonged to her husband. Later, Stanley would call police again about a 9 mm gun in her home.

“She took us to the gun and showed us where it was, and we recovered it,” Redding said. Detective Thacker also testified about Stanley and the gun. He said he read Stanley her Miranda rights, “line by line,” and asked her to initial each line as he read them aloud to her, to indicate she understood.