Judicial timeline

Here are the key developments in the prosecution of the guy who killed Mike.

Aug. 16, 2003 – Jason William Futch of Brunswick was taken into custody sometime after 2 a.m. and charged with murder in the death of Mike Weaver. Atlanta police questioned Futch and witnesses in The Summit apartment, in the 300 block of Lenox Road, where Weaver was shot. There were at least a half dozen other people present in the apartment. Police say Futch waved a shotgun at two other young men as Futch said he was going to kill Weaver. Futch then allegedly fired a shot that went through the bedroom door and through the bathroom door, striking Weaver on the other side of the bathroom door. Weaver emerged from the bathroom, collapsed on the floor and died on the way to a hospital.

September 2, 2003 – Futch had been held in the Fulton County jail pending his first appearance before a judge. He appeared today with two private attorneys, Richard Hagler of Columbus and Don Samuel of Atlanta. He was apprised of the charge against him, and Hagler asked that his client be released on bond. The judge agreed to a $50,000 bond, secured by a house owned by Futch’s parents in Brunswick. The murder defendant was released under house arrest into his parents’ custody. He was instructed to travel only from home to work or to school, and he was not to leave Georgia without the court’s permission.

March 26, 2004 – Fulton County Assistant District Attorney Pete Johnson calls to say that a grand jury today had indicted Jason Futch on eight charges in Mike’s death: 1. Murder. 2. Felony murder. 3. Aggravated assault with a deadly weapon against Mike. 4. Aggravated assault with a deadly weapon against Patrick Leonard. 5. Aggravated assault with a deadly weapon against Jarred Ferrell. 6. Possession of a firearm during the commission of a felony against Mike. 7. Possession of a firearm during the commission of a felony against Patrick. 8. Possession of a firearm during the commission of a felony against Jarred.

April 26, 2004 – The arraignment is held for Jason Futch. The judge assigned to the case is new to the bench. He is Thomas Campbell, an attorney and longtime member of the state House of Representatives. He is expected to assume the bench following a special session of the General Assembly, scheduled for early May. The main prosecutor will be Shukura Ingram Polk. Judge Elizabeth Long filled in for Campbell during the arraignment, in which Futch pleaded not guilty to the charges against him. Futch appeared with Hagler, his attorney from Columbus, and notified the court of a change of address. Futch has moved to Savannah. According to a prosecutor, July 9 at 9:30 a.m. would be the final plea calendar, and the case has been given an Aug. 6 trial date.

May 2004 – Judge Campbell is sworn in and assumes the bench.

July 9, 2004 – To no one’s real surprise, the trial of the State of Georgia vs. Jason Futch won’t be held in August. Fulton County prosecutor Shukura Polk said the August trial calendar for Judge Thomas Campbell has been issued, and the Futch case isn’t on it. She said there are five murder cases assigned to Judge Campbell that are older than the Futch case, and three of those are scheduled for August. However, there’s no guarantee that all three of those will be disposed of during the month. It’s possible that a more realistic trial date for Futch will be learned at the next court proceeding, scheduled to take place Thursday, July 15. The proceeding is the final plea date where Futch could agree to a negotiated plea — it’s a chance for the accused and the prosecution to discuss whether the accused wants to negotiate some sort of plea deal to the charges. While Futch would be expected to appear in court — since the terms of his bond require him to appear at all court proceedings — it’s highly unlikely he will plead guilty to murder, since that carries a life sentence. And it’s our understanding prosecutors are not willing to negotiate a plea which would involve any charge of less than murder. After the July 15 proceeding the case will be assigned to a trial calendar — presumably one after the month of August.

July 14, 2004 – The final plea hearing scheduled for July 15 has been postponed after Futch’s attorney said he had a scheduling conflict and had to appear in federal court on another case. The court administrator could not immediately say when the proceeding will be held.

July 17, 2004 – Word has been received that the Futch trial likely will be assigned to the trial calendar for the last quarter of the year, October-December, and that Judge Campbell is very interested in seeing the trials on this calendar proceed quickly and diligently toward conclusion. We don’t yet know for sure that this will happen, or that the Futch case will for certain be assigned to this calendar, but it seems encouraging that this possibility is being discussed and that the trial could occur before the end of the year.

Aug. 6, 2004 – As expected, Jason Futch did not plead guilty during a hearing Friday in Atlanta. In a very brief — less-than-one-minute proceeding — Fulton County Superior Court Judge Tom Campbell called the case, and Futch’s attorney, Richard Hagler of Columbus, stood up and told Campbell that he is not yet ready to go to trial. Hagler and Senior Assistant District Attorney Shondeana Crews spoke to the judge about procedural matters, how to proceed, and that was it. Crews, another prosecutor in the District Attorney’s major case division, was standing in for prosecutor Shakura Polk, who was in Oregon attending a seminar. The case was assigned to the “October calendar,” which in reality means it will be assigned for trial on a date in October, November or December.

Sept. 24, 2004 – It appears the trial of the State of Georgia vs. Jason Futch will begin in mid-December, 2004. The prosecutor in the case said she’s asked the judge for a trial date of Dec. 14, which is a Tuesday. On that date the Futch case would be the #1 case set for trial. A slight delay could occur if a trial from the previous week lapsed over into the next week, but if not — and if the defense attorneys raise no objections — the trial would begin on Dec. 14. The prosecutor would expect the trial to conclude on the Friday of that week. She has said that many of the witnesses that she would be calling would be college students, so a trial date near the Christmas holiday might make it easier for them to be able to testify. This could change, of course, but as of this date this is the latest and best information we have received.

Oct. 15, 2004 – A Fulton County Superior Court judge has set Dec. 14 as the trial date for Jason Futch. That was the date that the prosecutor had requested. It’s possible the trial will be delayed, but that’s always a possibility in just about any court case. The prosecutor expect the trial to begin on Tuesday and probably would end on the following Friday.

Nov. 22, 2004 – The attorney for Jason Futch, as well as Futch’s father, both have contacted the Fulton County prosecutor and asked her to delay the trial until after the first of the year. No reason was given. Prosecutor Shakura Polk says she told both the attorney and the father that she would not agree to a delay, and she would insist the trial begin as scheduled, on Dec. 14. So far, the judge has not been asked to rule on any such request, which could be submitted early — weeks before the trial — or could come as late as when the trial begins, when the judge would rule on the request. Regardless of when it might come, Ms. Polk says she will continue to oppose any delay.

Dec. 14-17, 2004 – The Trial — Futch is found guilty of murder, sentenced to life in prison

Dec. 17, 2004 – About 60 letters and statements were received from Mike’s friends and family in preparation for the judge’s sentencing. Here’s a list of those people who submitted letters — according to the copies that were provided to us. If this list omits your name, but you submitted a letter, please send us a copy and we’ll add you to the list. As it turned out, we doubt the judge had time to read the letters prior to sentencing Mike’s killer. However, they still serve a very important purpose. These letters will remain a part of Jason Futch’s file, and when the Georgia Board of Pardons and Paroles — how ever many years from now — considers whether to release him on parole, these letters will be there for the board members to review. The letters are strong statements about the wonderful person Mike was, and they will surely convince any board member that Futch should be punished a long time because he killed a loving, kind, thoughtful human being.

May 2005 – Visitors to the Georgia Department of Corrections Web site are able to see that Jason Futch is now in the Georgia prison system.

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