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Man could face death penalty for priest's death

A 28-year-old man in Georgia was indicted on May 25 for malice murder and other criminal charges including false imprisonment and aggravated assault. Prosecutors are reportedly seeking the death penalty for the alleged murder of a St. Augustine priest. The priest's body was discovered in a wooded area of northeast Georgia after the accused man led investigators to the site on April 18.

Since the man has been suspected of committing a violent crime, he has been held without bond. At the man's bond hearing on May 13, the assistant district attorney detailed the series of events that investigators say led to the priest's death. According to investigators, the accused man shot the priest on April 11 after forcing him to ride in the trunk of his own car.

Investigators believe that the deceased priest had been trying to help the accused man by lending him his car. The priest rode in the car with the accused man, who allegedly claimed that he was going to South Carolina to visit his two children. After making the priest get into the trunk of the vehicle, the accused man allegedly committed several burglaries before fatally shooting the priest near Highway 56. Most of the items that were stolen during the alleged burglaries were firearms.

A person who is accused of murder will likely receive a more severe sentence if prosecutors can prove that the killing was premeditated or especially egregious. A criminal defense attorney may be able to help a defendant to dispute murder charges by arguing self-defense. If there is not a strong case for self-defense, an attorney may argue for a reduced sentence by proving that a defendant acted without any premeditation.

Source: News4Jax, "Georgia to seek death penalty on man accused of killing St. Augustine priest," May 25, 2016

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