Sunday October 4th, 2015 7:47PM

Murder cases from White, Stephens counties to be heard by Supreme Court

By Ken Stanford Reporter
ATLANTA - White County prosecutors go before the Georgia Supreme Court Tuesday in a second appeal of a county judge's ruling granting a new trial to a man convicted of murder and given a life sentence. The high court is also scheduled to hear an appeal in a Stephens County murder case that same day.

This is the second time the State of Georgia is appealing a White County judge s ruling granting a new trial to a man who was convicted of murder and sentenced to life in prison.

Sam Abernathy was convicted in November 2008 of the murder of Darren Ramey earlier that year during an altercation at the Southside Bar in Helen. John Geren, who was with Abernathy, was also charged in the case but the charges against him were dismissed and he testified for the prosecution at Abernathy's trial.

Abernathy claims he stabbed Ramey in self-defense and he appealed for a new trial which was granted by a White County Superior Court judge. However, the state Supreme Court reversed that judge's decision. Nevertheless, the lower court again granted Abernathy a new trial based on additional evidence that was presented it in a new appeal.

So, the state is appealing again and that is the matter the high court will hear on Tuesday. In his latest motion, the District Attorney argues that the new evidence is "not new evidence sufficient to authorize a new trial."


In the Stephens County case, Anthony C. Merritt is appeal the conviction and the "life without parole" sentence he was given for killing his roommate, Jerron Jackson, in Toccoa on July 31, 2011.

Merritt was convicted of killing Jackson after the victim came outside the mobile home they shared and argued with Merritt about Merritt's shooting a gun. A witness said Meritt, who appeared under the influence of alcohol or drugs, and Jackson walked back into the mobile home.

Later that day, though, she said she heard what sounded like firecrackers or gunshots from the trailer.

Stephens County sheriff's deputies responded to the scene and found Jackson dead in Merritt's bedroom and Merritt lying on the bed, sobbing.

Merritt s attorney argues that the lawyer who represented Merritt during his trial was incompetent and ineffective for failing to file a motion to suppress the evidence obtained from authorities "illegal entry" into the trailer.

Representing the State, the District Attorney and Attorney General argue Merritt s trial attorney was not ineffective for declining to file a motion to suppress the evidence authorities retrieved from the trailer. Rather, they say, the attorney made "a strategic decision" not to file such a motion because he didn t feel he had a legal basis.
© Copyright 2015
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
White County E-SPLOST extension vote set March 17
The White County Board of Education has set in motion a public vote on a sales tax extension.
11:12AM ( 9 months ago )
Authorities issue lookout for burglary suspect in White County
The White County Sheriff
3:25PM ( 9 months ago )
White County student located safely after getting off at the wrong bus stop
White County officials report a happy ending to an incident involving a third grade student at White County Intermediate School. The student was placed on the wrong bus and got off at the wrong location late Tuesday and was the object of a small search.
4:44PM ( 9 months ago )
White County News
Grass fire impacts rush hour traffic on 985
Rush hour traffic on I-985 was slowed by a grass fire Wednesay afternoon with one lane closed while firefighters fought the blaze.
10:19PM ( 9 months ago )
Judge denies motions to move, delay Tsarnaev trial
Lawyers for Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev asked a federal appeals court Wednesday to overturn a judge's decision to not move his upcoming trial out of state.
10:02PM ( 9 months ago )
Sheriff: Man shot 2 on I-85 because he wanted car
A 22-year-old man shot two people who stopped to give him a ride on Interstate 85 in South Carolina on Christmas Eve because he wanted their car to drive to Georgia, a sheriff said Wednesday.
5:21PM ( 9 months ago )
Local/State News
Over 10,000 Habersham EMC customers without power; Ga. Power also coping with outages
Power crews and public safety officials spent all day Sunday and into the night dealing with numerous downed trees, broken poles and broken power lines in White and surrounding counties.
By Dean Dyer
5:39PM ( 2 hours ago )
Freeman leads Falcons to another win, 48-21 over Texans
No need for another fourth-quarter comeback...
5:23PM ( 2 hours ago )
UPDATED: Ga. man dies in weather-related accident in NC, strong winds topple trees across North Ga.
Wind gusts of more than 40 mph wreaked havoc on North Georgia Sunday morning, bringing down trees and knocking out power for thousands of people.
4:15PM ( 3 hours ago )
Monday is deadline to register to vote in Nov. elections
Monday is the deadline to register to vote Nov. 3 when Hall County residents will be asked to approve an extension of the education sales tax and a number of city elections will be held.
11:30AM ( 8 hours ago )
Town hall on developmental disabilities coming to Gainesville
A Georgia non-profit that provides parental family support, advocacy and training for people with developmental disabilities is coming to Gainesville again to host a town hall session.
10:52AM ( 8 hours ago )