BRUNSWICK, Ga. (AP) — A judge plans to hear legal arguments Wednesday on whether to order DNA testing on evidence from a 1987 killing for which a death row inmate in Georgia is scheduled to be executed next week.
Jimmy Fletcher Meders, 58, is facing execution by lethal injection Jan. 16 for the killing of cashier Don Anderson at a convenience store in coastal Glynn County.
Superior Court Judge Stephen Scarlett of the Brunswick Judicial Circuit scheduled a hearing Wednesday afternoon after Meders’ attorney filed a court motion last week seeking DNA tests that he said would cast doubt on Meders being the killer, and therefore show he deserves a new trial.
Lawyers for the state argued in their own court filing that the DNA evidence Meders seeks wouldn’t undermine other evidence supporting his conviction. They said the request seems timed to delay putting Meders to death, given that it was filed right after his execution date was set.
Three witnesses at Meders’ 1989 trial identified him as the cashier’s killer : Meders’ employer, Randy Harris; and two other men, Bill Arnold and Greg Creel.
Meders spent the afternoon of Oct. 13, 1987, drinking alcohol with the other men. After leaving Harris and driving around for hours, Meders, Creel and Arnold ended up at a convenience store about 2:30 a.m. the next morning.
When the men left, Anderson was dead from gunshots to the chest and head. More than $30 had been taken from the cash drawer.
Creel testified he was warming up sausage biscuits in the store’s microwave when he heard gunshots and bolted outside, where Arnold waited in a car. The men said Meders came out of the store with a revolver in his hand and offered them a share of the cash he’d taken from the register.
Harris, who wasn’t at the store, testified Meders confessed to him afterward that he’d killed a man for $38.
Testifying in his own trial, Meders insisted it was Arnold who shot the cashier. He accused Harris of planting the gun police later found under Meders’ bed. It was Harris who suggested police look there.
Meders’ attorney, Michael Admirand, wants the judge to order DNA tests on the handgun, which remains in a sealed plastic bag in possession of the Glynn County court clerk. Admirand argued that if DNA from Creel or Arnold is found on the gun, it would show both men gave false testimony when they said they didn’t know Meders had a gun. If Harris’ DNA is present, Admirand wrote, it would bolster Meders’ argument that Harris tried to frame him.
State attorneys argued in their own court filing that DNA testing won’t change other key evidence used to convict Meders.
Meders owned the revolver used to kill Anderson. Police found $1 and $5 bills in Meders’ wallet that matched “bait money” the store manager kept in the register after writing down the serial numbers. That allowed the money to be traced if the store got robbed.
Meders was the only person found with any of the stolen cash.
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