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The grand jury just handed down a nine count indictment against all three defendants. Some of the news outfits are reporting that they were charged with “malice”. The actual charges were “malice murder” and “felony murder”. I read the complete indictment. It looks to me as if they laid it on pretty thick. There were multiple counts of felony murder based upon different felonies enumerated.

The grand jury in Georgia is a group of folks who are called up for service and they look at all the evidence available in the case and make a decision. They are guided by the representative of the prosecution and, as I said before, a good prosecutor can indict a ham sandwich. The indictment was done by 20 or so citizens comprising the grand jury.

In Georgia, it appears that the charges carry a maximum sentence of life imprisonment or the death penalty. Especially now in light of everything going on in the country, I would suspect these guys are toast.
 

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Don't know how Georgia law works, but if those are the only charges that can be considered by the jury, I'd say acquittal or hung jury.
 

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Sometimes prosecutors go for the very highest charge possible. Charges have “lesser included“ possibilities.

As an example, if someone were charged with first-degree murder for beating someone to death, the jury would be asked to make that finding. If they don’t find it was premeditated, they could find second degree murder, if not, third etc. depending on the individual law, lesser included offenses could go all the way down to simple battery for hitting somebody.

That’s my understanding of how things work.
 

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Sometimes prosecutors go for the very highest charge possible. Charges have “lesser included“ possibilities.

As an example, if someone were charged with first-degree murder for beating someone to death, the jury would be asked to make that finding. If they don’t find it was premeditated, they could find second degree murder, if not, third etc. depending on the individual law, lesser included offenses could go all the way down to simple battery for hitting somebody.

That’s my understanding of how things work.
They do use that tactic a lot in the PRNJ. On the last case where I served as a juror the charges where like that. You could convict on 2nd degree Assault, or 3rd degree assault, or 4th degree etc. etc. There was also a "cascade" thing for the other charges on the indictment. But it was a really weak case. In the end they added a "Simple Assault" charge to the indictment 3 days into the trial, and that's the only one on which he was convicted of anything. A "Petty Disorderly Person's Offense" The classic 30 days in jail.

I'm wondering why this isn't used more in FL for some of the important trials (Casey Anthony, Zimmerman, etc. etc.). I'm thinking they could have gotten them convicted on something if they had done that....
 

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Yes sir. Sometimes the way cases are “overcharged“ becomes unproductive. In the Zimmerman case, the prosecutor, Angela Corey was a publicity hound and clearly should have served the public rather than her political ambitions a little better. I’m not sure what lesser included instructions were given to the jury.

Likewise, the Casey Anthony case was handled poorly. One of my best friends was the state attorney at the time who, regrettably, called on Jeff Ashton to prosecute. It was to be Ashton‘s last case and he was called in to handle the forensic aspect. He later backstabbed his boss and ran for state attorney after saying he would not.

There’s almost an imperceptible bias built-in to an overcharged case. When you stand up in an opening statement and go to great lengths describing this as a premeditated murder and the proof comes nowhere near that, credibility suffers with the jury.
 
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