***UPDATED ON SEPTEMBER 7 AT 5:30 P.M.***
Leon Tripp’s arraignment and unified appeal hearing consisted mostly of the judge and lawyers talking about how this particular legal process will work for all involved, including media.
Tripp, 39, heard the indictment District Attorney Natalie Paine read aloud in court before entering his plea in a case heard around the world. Paine told the court she personally served Tripp the indictment March 15.
After a series of questions from Judge Michael Annis, Tripp and his legal team responded.
“Your honor Mr. Tripp has signed the indictment in court pleading not guilty,” said defense attorney Crystal Bice.
The nearly hour long unified appeal hearing and arraignment in Judge Annis’ court was a first for Brad Gardner and Crystal Bice, two attorneys from Georgia Capital Defendants in Atlanta. They along with District Attorney Paine spoke with the judge about how the death penalty case will work.
Gardner said, “Yes, your honor, we do intend to challenge the grand jury.”
Gardner, the lead attorney for Tripp, said he couldn’t give details on what he would challenge because he had not seen the discovery, unleashing a records access battle. He also expressed his desire to prepare a defense in secret to subpoena witnesses absent the state and even media cameras in pre-trial proceedings to protect Tripp’s right to a fair trial.
“What we are asking is the court denies the cameras being able to film inside the court room,” Bice explained. “That’s what’s laid out in our objection.” That nine page objection cites various court cases and claims that cameras would taint members of the jury pool.
The defense also discussed Janell Carwell’s autopsy results and needing to access those records in the case. We heard more from Tripp in court too.
Judge Annis asked Tripp, “What is your educational background?”
“I dropped out in the eight grade,” replied Tripp.
Judge Annis also wanted to know if Tripp, who also denied his kidnapping and attempt to conceal a death charges, pursued his GED.
Tripp answered, “Yes sir. I did when I was in prison, but it was so close to me going home I wasn’t able to finish.”
NewsChannel 6 is one of the media outlets served with the objection to media filming in court during pre-trial proceedings. We will be back in court September 25 to discuss that and the documents Tripp’s attorneys still need.
The man accused of kidnapping and murdering his 16-year-old stepdaughter entered a not guilty plea Friday morning.
Leon Tripp appeared in court Friday for his arraignment and unified appeal hearing, which is required for death penalty cases.
He was arrested last May and indicted in March for murder, kidnapping and concealing the death of LaTania Janell Carwell.
Two attorneys with Georgia Capital Defendants will represent Tripp.
Both say they will challenge the grand jury.
Carwell’s mother Tanya Tripp has already pleaded not guilty to second-degree murder charges.