A jury of 12 peers and one alternate was selected Monday morning in the case of Bobby Lee Newman, 28, of Temple, charged with homicide by vehicle.
Newman’s case is being presided over by Judge John Simpson.
Simpson heard several motions and other matters from Newman’s lawyer, Carrollton attorney Jason Swindle, and the prosecuting attorney, Vincent Faucette.
Likewise, Judge Quillian Baldwin heard several motions in the case of Carlos Figueroa, 60, the California man accused to trafficking 45 pounds of meth last year.
The motion to suppress evidence, brought up by Figueroa’s legal counsel, Atlanta attorney Bruce Harvey, was not completed by the end of court Monday. Baldwin said he would pick up the case this morning at 9 a.m.
In Simpson’s courtroom, the judge ruled on a pre-trial motion made by Swindle to exclude some evidence that was entered in a deposition of his client for his pending civil actions.
The judge ruled in favor of the defendant, and the evidence, which amounted to the defendant answering a question and then pleading the fifth amendment in the same breath, was prohibited from being admitted.
Swindle argued that the question was “unfair and improper,” bringing in Newman’s attorney in the civil action to testify on the fairness of the question.
In selecting the jury, the court had to excuse one man from the 36-person potential juror panel because he is the father of the defendant.
The court had to excuse two other members of the panel because one worked as a Georgia State Patrol dispatcher, and the other was a former friend of the deceased victim, Todd Goddard of Temple.
Altogether, Newman was indicted on nine counts, including homicide by vehicle, serious injury by vehicle, DUI and making a false statement to police.
According to Franka Young, an official with the Department of Public Safety’s information office, at approximately 1:05 a.m. on Feb. 18, 2012, a 1994 Ford Probe traveling north at high speeds on Center Point Road left the road and overturned when Newman lost control of the vehicle north of Levans Road.
Georgia State Trooper Nicholas Moore, the primary investigator in the accident, said the vehicle ran a stop sign and passed another vehicle in a no-pass zone, which he said led Newman to lose control.
Young said that none of the car’s four occupants were wearing seatbelts at the time of the crash and Newman and another passenger, Richard Christopher Evans, 24, of Temple, were ejected as the car overturned. Both Newman and Evans had been seated on the car’s driver side.
Todd Allen Goddard, 27, of Temple died as a result of the injuries he sustained while sitting in the front passenger seat during the crash, and fellow passenger Christopher Allen Nestick, 26, of Villa Rica was flown to Atlanta Medical Center for treatment.
Moore said that alcohol definitely contributed to the cause of the crash.
The state is expected to call its first witness at 9:30 a.m. today.
In Baldwin’s courtroom, Monday afternoon was spent considering Harvey’s motion to suppress evidence.
Harvey argued that the reason his client was stopped while traveling eastbound on Interstate 20 in Carroll County — following too closely — was vague, ambiguous and “unconstitutional on its face.”
Figueroa was stopped on Feb. 2, 2012, during a routine traffic stop. He was driving a 2006 Ford F-150 at the time.
Carroll County Sheriff Terry Langley said 45 pounds — about $1.6 million worth — of crystal meth was in the floor of Figueroa’s truck.
The defendant has been indicted on charges of trafficking meth, following too closely and failure to maintain lane.
Due to the amount of the drug that was found, Figueroa faces a minimum prison sentence of 25 years and up to a $1 million fine.
Langley said that it is believed that Figueroa was en route to Atlanta from San Antonio, Texas, when he was stopped on I-20 in Carroll County.
“Atlanta is now a hub for drug traffickers,” he said. “It goes to the Atlanta area and goes north or south and some ends up back here. What’s great about this bust is that it (seized) 45 pounds of the most deadly drug I’ve seen in my time in law enforcement.”
He said that the sheriff’s office normal arrests for methamphetamine possession yield very little in comparison to the amount confiscated by law enforcement during the traffic stop. The 20 kilograms of methamphetamine discovered that day is more than was collected by the sheriff’s office for the entirety of 2010.
“I have no doubt this individual was a trafficker and a smuggler,” Langley said. “It’s a huge, huge amount, and we’re glad that it’s off the street.”
The motion to suppress was still pending as of Monday evening, with arguments expected to resume at 9 a.m. today. After Baldwin’s ruling on that issue, a trial could be pursued, or the case could be continued.