Let's see if we have this straight.
Tom Chumley admitted - twice - to Columbia County Sheriff's Office investigators that he murdered his 74-year-old mother, Meredith Guy of Martinez, four years ago by shooting her in the back of the head.
A jury of his peers convicted Chumley, and Judge Carlisle Overstreet sent him to prison for life plus five years.
The Georgia Supreme Court reviewed the case and says Chumley clearly is guilty of murder.
Yet because Overstreet told jurors that Chumley's confession was "voluntary," the high court says Chumley deserves a new trial. Huh?
Justice George Carley, writing for the court, says "Any reasonable juror, having heard (Judge Overstreet's) comments, might well construe them as an expression of opinion on the credibility of the admissions."
To the contrary. For Overstreet to call the confession "voluntary" was merely redundant. If Chumley's confession was coerced, Overstreet couldn't admit it as evidence in the first place.
The fact that the confession was allowed to be introduced during the trial makes it abundantly clear that the admission was, indeed, voluntary. Yet the justices are going to saddle Columbia County taxpayers with the expense of a new trial for a confessed murderer - one the justices acknowledge is guilty of the heinous crime - just because the judge stated the obvious?
Chumley wasn't tried under the death penalty, so that means he already got off lightly. The very idea that our community has to go through this case all over again is an abuse of a criminal justice system that far too often fails to see the obvious forest of guilt amidst the legalistic trees.
Georgia's high court blew this one - but Columbia County, and justice for Meredith Guy, will be the ones to pay for it.
The Columbia County News-Times ©2013. All Rights Reserved.