It’s been almost 16 years since Jack Abbot Murray’s murder. His family has waited for justice, but the men suspected of killing Murray will not be tried.
Earlier this month, a judge dismissed the charges against Shannon Devon Patton and Daniel Joseph Newton because they were denied the right to a speedy trial.
How did they get their murder cases dismissed?
The short answer – the prosecutor did not comply with the requirements of the Interstate Agreement on Detainers Act (IADA). Not only that, but this is not the first time it’s happened – in 2016, two other murder charges were dismissed against Julio and Alex Hunsberger because of the prosecutor’s failure to move forward on their case.
Patton and Newtons’ prosecutor says that he didn’t push forward with a murder trial because he thought the suspects were serving life sentences without the possibility of parole in Georgia.
In fact, they were not, and it’s unclear how the prosecutor could have been unaware of this. The sentencing documents – which were provided to the prosecutor in 2004 – made it clear that the men were sentenced to life in prison with the possibility of parole.
When the men were released from prison in Georgia, they were charged with murder in South Carolina in late 2015 – 13 years after the murder happened – and held in the Edgefield County jail until their cases were dismissed this month.
What Is the Interstate Agreement on Detainers Act (IADA)?
The IADA is an interstate agreement that has been passed into law in 48 states that controls how states handle charges and detainers on prisoners who are imprisoned in other states.
The agreement lays out how states gain temporary custody of a defendant imprisoned in another state and transport the defendant across state lines for trial. The IADA also helps defendants resolve charges in one state when they are imprisoned in another state.
By regulating the process of trying a prisoner in a different state, the IADA prevents prisoners from being constantly transported from one state to another and it prevents states from delaying for unreasonably long periods of time before bringing a suspect to trial.
You Can Demand A Speedy Trial Under the IADA
Under the IADA, when a state files charges against a prisoner held in another state, the defendant can then give written notice that they want a speedy trial.
This starts a “speedy-trial clock” that gives the prosecutor 180 days to start the process. This timetable can be extended only if a judge determines there is good cause for the delay or if the court determines that the defendant is unable to stand trial.
If the clock is not delayed, failure of the prosecutor to act within the time limit can result in the charges being dismissed – exactly what happened in the Edgefield County case. No matter how heinous the crime, charges can be tossed out when prosecutors fail to deliver a speedy trial.
Can My Attorney Use the IADA To Get My Case Dismissed?
It doesn’t happen very often, but it’s one of many things that your criminal defense attorney will look at as they work on getting your case dismissed or winning it at trial. Even if you are already in prison for another crime, you are entitled to a speedy trial. If you gave notice under the IADA to the prosecutor that you want a speedy trial and the prosecutor fails to deliver, your charges could be dismissed.
SC Criminal Defense Lawyers in Myrtle Beach, Conway, Columbia, and Charleston
When your Myrtle Beach criminal defense lawyer at Coastal Law takes on your case, your defense attorney will look for any means that is legally and ethically possible to get your case dismissed or win it at trial. If you are being held in another jurisdiction and you provided notice to the prosecutor under the IADA, that may include a dismissal for a speedy trial violation.
Contact Coastal Law today at (843) 488-5000 or fill out our online form to set up a free consultation.