Murdered Alabama preacher trail hangs in the balance after pre-t - WTVM.com-Columbus, GA News Weather & Sports

Murdered Alabama preacher trial hangs in the balance after pre-trial motions halt proceedings

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COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) -

The family of an East Alabama preacher who was found shot to death under a Columbus bridge waited more than two years for justice; after the first day of the trial, they may have to wait even longer.

The five people accused of fatally shooting Reverend Blanchard Thomas headed to trial Monday. 

As of Monday evening there was no jury selected, we didn't hear any opening statements or testimony. The trial was delayed by a pre-trial motion for recusal of the chief prosecutor due to a conflict of interest.

Defendant Jody Perry's attorney Stacey Jackson argued assistant district attorney Al Whitaker and the entire District Attorney's office should be disqualified from trying the case.

Jackson argued Whitaker previously represented Perry in juvenile court and again in 2006. Jackson said Whitaker representing Perry in the past made him privy to Perry's information and that could compromise Perry's defense.

Judge Rumer agreed with part of Jackson's argument by disqualifying Whitaker but not the entire DA's office.

Although the decision was partly in Jackson's favor, both the defense and the state are challenging Judge Rumor's decision.

If Judge Rumer and counsel can't come to a consensus, the decision will be handed over to the Supreme Court to decide; which could take months.

Meanwhile, the number of defendants continued to dwindle; only three of the suspects appeared in court Monday.

Perry, Donnie Forte, and Joel Thomas are three out of the five defendants that did not accept plea deals with the state.

The other two, Keedra Brummitt and Michael Ingram agreed to testify for the prosecution in exchange for plea deals.

Court is scheduled to resume Tuesday afternoon.

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