The Georgia Supreme Court has ruled an Atlanta man has not been denied his right to a speedy trial, even though it’s been more than six years since his first arrest.
The court sided with investigators who said the case required a complex and time-consuming investigation, resulting in the delay.
Timothy Leroy Wilkie is accused of killing Allen Morris with a crossbow in September 2005. Police arrested Wilkie and released him on bond. It was four years before a grand jury indicted him and police arrested him again.
Wilkie argued that violated his right to a speedy trial, but the Supreme Court said the delay was unintentional. The court also cited Wilkie's delay in bringing up the issue.
“He didn’t assert it,” said Caren Morrison, an assistant professor at the Georgia State University College of Law who is not involved in the case. “He didn’t assert it when he was re-arrested in 2009, four years after the incident, and he didn’t do anything until January 18, 2011, so that really weighs heavily against him.”
Morrison said Wilkie might have had more success if had filed a speedy trial claim when he was arrested the second time.
“It wouldn’t have been a bad idea to make the claim after he was re-arrested in 2009,” Morrison said, “because then they could say, ‘I was out on bail all this time, how come you’re arresting me now and why is this, what took you so long?’”
Morrison said a delay can benefit defendants, so Wilkie may not have actually wanted a speedy trial.
Wilkie’s attorney didn’t return calls for comment.
The case is one of several recent speedy trial challenges, but most others cite funding problems that have hampered the criminal justice system.