Judge rules to allow key evidence in Melanie Steele murder case
SAVANNAH, Ga. (WTOC) - A judge has made a ruling to allow key evidence in the murder case of Melanie Steele as the case heads toward a jury trial.
The ruling allows thousands of pages of evidence, including the FBI laboratory evidence that helped identify Steel’s remains.
Chatham County investigators discovered Steele’s body in March of 2020 - six months after they say she was kidnapped. Five people have been charged in connection to her death.
On Wednesday, Superior Court Judge John E. Morse, Jr. made a ruling to allow the FBI evidence in front of a jury. Defense attorneys argued prosecutors held onto the evidence for years and turned it over two weeks ago, which was in violation of the judge’s scheduling order.
A prosecutor, who was assigned to the case last month, told the judge she thought the defense already had the files when she sent it over.
In his ruling, Judge Morse said he didn’t find the state’s actions to be deliberate, but said the “continued revolving door of Assistant District Attorneys” affecting this case “cannot persist.” And that the state’s “lack of organization” or “mere negligence” tends to amount to depriving the defendants of their constitutional rights.
The trial has been delayed six times since the abduction and death of Melanie Steele in 2019.
Judge Morse has set the trial date for Feb. 21.
WTOC plans to cover the trial.
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