Possible death penalty debated during pre-trial motion hearing for Crocker Sr.

Published: Sep. 16, 2022 at 5:21 PM EDT
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EFFINGHAM COUNTY, Ga. (WTOC) - Almost four years ago, Mary and Elwyn Crocker Jr. were found dead in their backyard in Effingham County.

Their father, a defendant in the case, was in court Friday as a judge heard pre-trial motions. The court addressed more than a dozen pre-trial motions by the defense in the case against Elwyn Crocker Sr.

During the pre-trial hearing, Elwyn Crocker senior’s defense attorneys said their were 16 search warrants filed in this investigation.

We’re also learning there were about seven or eight devices, like phones and tablets, taken from the home the siblings lived at with their family.

One of Crocker’s defense attorneys Samuel Wood argued that some evidence presented in pre-trial hearings should be closed to the public. He says because if potential jurors see content like what’s on those devices mentioned or disturbing photographs before jury selections for trial begin, their opinion could be swayed.

“There are going to be photographs of the body of the victims in this case. These particular victims are children and that tends, when it is published, when it is disseminated to the public, to be sensationalized because they are children.”

Lead prosecutor Matt Breedon denied the motion.

“Those photographs will be displayed to this court in a manner to where they will not be able to be video recorded by the crews in the court room, either they will be handed to the court or they will be displayed on a screen that will angled towards the court.”

As Crocker Sr.’s attorneys defended several motions, one topic kept coming up...the state’s wish to pursue the death penalty.

The defense claims studies show jurors in death penalty cases are often tainted by the severe punishment being on the table.

Crocker’s defense attorney Jerilyn Bell motioned to have a pre-trial hearing with an expert witness to support these studies.

“One of the highest factors for a case that would result in a likely death sentence is one that involves children by almost 40 percent higher and the impact of potential constitutional errors could not be greater than a case that involves children,” Bell said.

State prosecution attorney Matt Breedon also denied that motion.

“I don’t think this is a hearing that is necessary in this case especially not at this point. What the defense has done is cited various studies that may be testified to by an individual that did not conduct those studies which would be an issue for the state,” Breedon said.

The motions discussed at this pre-trial hearing have not been ruled on by Chief Judge F. Gate Peed yet. He has until trial begins to make a decision.

As for what’s next, Judge Peed says Elwyn Crocker Senior, Kim Wright and Mark Wright will be in pre-trial hearings together at the end of October.

When trials begin, the three defendants will be tried separately. Judge Peed says the first person in trial will be Elwyn Crocker Senior.