Ga. Supreme Court to Hear Stephens Co. Murder Conviction Appeal Today

The Georgia Supreme Court is expected to hear oral arguments today in the appeal of a man convicted of murder in Stephens County in 2012.

Attorneys for both Anthony C. Merritt and the state of Georgia are expected to make their oral arguments before the state’s highest court this afternoon.

In April 2012, a jury found Merritt guilty of malice and felony murder and other charges in the shooting death of Jerron Jackson, in July 2011 at a mobile home that the two men shared on Kylemore Drive, near Whispering Pines Road.

Merritt was sentenced to life without parole plus 10 years.

Now, he is appealing his conviction and sentence.

In the appeal to the Supreme Court, Merritt’s attorney argued that the lawyer who represented Merritt at his trial was incompetent and ineffective.

Merritt’s attorney said that the trial lawyer failed to file a motion to suppress evidence from what he claims was authorities’ illegal entry into the trailer. Also, the attorney said the trial lawyer should have asked the judge to instruct jurors they could consider Merritt guilty of voluntary or involuntary manslaughter based on the evidence presented in the case.

However, the state argued that Merritt’s trial lawyer was not ineffective, adding that police believed there was an emergency inside the trailer and that gave them a valid reason to enter the trailer.

Also, the state said marijuana found in the trailer supported Merritt’s defense that Jackson was killed by “Carolina men” in a drug deal gone bad.

As for the issue of manslaughter, the state argued that Merritt’s lawyer did not err on that front because the defense was that Merritt did not shoot Jackson.

Court documents indicated that rulings typically come about six months following the oral arguments.