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Sunday May 29th, 2016 12:15AM

SCOGA to hear appeals in Barrow Co. murder case

By Staff
ATLANTA - Two men, convicted in a joint trial for the 2006 murder and kidnapping of a Statham man during a drug deal, are appealing their life sentences to the Georgia Supreme Court.

Maurice Lamar Flournoy and Michael Williams were tried and convicted together in the May 2006 shooting death of Aaron Gaddis of Statham. Lawyers for both men are requesting new trials.

According to information from the Supreme Court of Georgia, Flournoy and Williams met the victim through a co-worker at Valentine Enterprises. The co-worker, Jaylon Vanderford, agreed to arrange a marijuana sale for the two with Gaddis, who was a childhood friend of Vanderford. Specifically, court documents show that Flournoy and Williams agreed to buy 5 lbs. of marijuana for $5,500.

Court information said on May 27, 2006 Vanderford met Flournoy as planned at a Kangaroo store and gas station. Although they had agreed Flournoy would follow Vanderford to Gaddis' house in Statham, Flournoy, who was accompanied by Williams, persuaded Vanderford to let them ride with Vanderford and his girlfriend, Ashley Russell, in his Ford Explorer.

After they pulled out of the gas station, Flournoy told Vanderford and Russell that they were being robbed. The couple told authorities they were unsure if Flournoy was serious until they heard him tell Williams to  click the gun, and they both heard the sound of a gun being cocked. Both said they saw the gun in Williams' hand.

Vanderford said he drove to Gaddis' house as instructed. Gaddis came to the vehicle and gave Flournoy and Williams the marijuana, and that is when the two told Gaddis he was being robbed, as well. They instructed Vanderford to return to the gas station. During the ride, Gaddis struck Flournoy and Williams shot Gaddis.

Vanderford left Williams and Flournoy at the gas station and then he told officers he drove to Winder-Barrow Medical Center. Gaddis died there from a gunshot wound to the chest.

Flournoy was arrested in Monroe after an all-points bulletin went out for his vehicle. After he was taken to the Barrow County Sheriff's Office, he assisted police in locating Williams by making several phone calls to him, which police recorded and which were later played for the jury. Once in custody, Williams told police where to find the gun.

Both Flournoy and Williams were found guilty in a joint trial in 2007 of felony murder based on aggravated assault, kidnapping with bodily injury of Gaddis, kidnapping of Vanderford, kidnapping of Russell, armed robbery of Gaddis, aggravated assault of Gaddis, Vanderford and Russell and possession of a firearm during the commission of a crime. Each man was sentenced to two life terms plus 25 years in prison.

Attorneys for Flournoy argue the trial court erred when instructing the jury on the charges against their client, noting that just because Flournoy was present at the scene did not mean he intended for Williams to murder Gaddis.

An attorney for Williams says his client and Flournoy should have been tried separately. The attorney claims had Williams and Flournoy been tried separately, the state would have been unable to admit the phone recordings of Flournoy.

The Supreme Court Justices are scheduled to rule on this case and others on Monday.
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