Hearings in Kicklighter case delayed as Weekes lawyers resigned over lack of pay • The Georgia Virtue

The scheduled hearings in the trial of those charged in the murder of Tattnall County native Bobby Kicklighter have been delayed due to a failure to pay defense attorneys.

Nathan Weekes appeared in Tattnall County Superior Court Tuesday morning for a hearing on a series of motions related to Weekes’ death penalty case. Weeks has been an inmate at the Georgia Department of Justice for nearly a decade, including during the time of Kicklighter’s murder.

However, the hearing did not happen because Weekes’ attorneys, Gerald Word and Jimmy Berry, had filed a letter of intent to resign as attorney. Word told the court that Weekes filed an application to be declared destitute because he had no source of income.

Under Georgian law, it is up to the defense attorney to determine whether an accused is actually in need and the state has no interest in the matter.

After reviewing the destitute motion, Judge Jay Stewart concluded that Weekes qualified and ordered that Weekes receive counsel from the Georgia Capital Defender’s Office.

This is the second time Weekes has changed legal counsel. He was previously represented by Atlanta-based defense attorney Brian Steele. Steele retired last fall.

Criminal defense attorney Frank Hogue told the PrisonTown podcast that defending a death penalty case can cost upwards of $500,000 to complete the trial.

Weekes’ co-defendant, Christopher Reginald Sumlin Jr., is already represented by two attorneys in the defense attorney’s office.

Another court date is scheduled for the end of the month, but will only be used for the procedural first appearance.

Weekes asked to contact the court before the hearing was completed, which Stewart said he would allow, but asked Weekes to consult with his legal counsel first. Word revealed that Weekes wanted to express his displeasure at not being fed regularly and not being allowed to call family. Word said when they met him at the Jackson special administration unit, Weekes complained that he “hadn’t eaten in about a day.”

Word, who said Weekes had filed a number of complaints with GDC, asked the court to order the Georgia Department of Corrections to grant Weekes the placement to which “all inmates are entitled.”

“I would say that’s one of the reasons we can’t get paid in some cases,” Word told the court.

“So am I supposed to direct the GDC to do their job?” Stewart asked.

“Yes, Your Honor.”

“Consider it done. GDC is ordered to do its job,” Stewart said.