Christopher James (l) and Herman Lawson (Fulton County Jail)
ATLANTA -- The Supreme Court of Georgia has reversed a ruling that would grant new trials to two men found guilty of kidnapping and murder.
Christopher James and Herman Lawson were convicted in 2008 of murdering Jeremiah Ingram and Fatima Fisher on Aug. 20, 2005.
James and Lawson, who were both sentenced to life in prison, had been granted retrials by a Fulton County judge. That decision was reversed Monday.
According to information presented in court, victim Ingram and an unnamed witness used to sell drugs out of an apartment at the former Clairmont Lodge in DeKalb County. On the night of the crime, Ingram and Fisher, who were a couple, were at the apartment at around 4 a.m. when James, Lawson and two other men returned from a club.
One of the men with the defendants accused Ingram of stealing $600 worth of cocaine that he'd left at the apartment, according to witnesses. Lawson forced Ingram and Fisher into a car at gunpoint and drove them to Gun Club Road on Atlanta's west side.
Lawson shot Ingram in the head when James told him to "just shoot him," court documents said. When Fisher tried to run, Lawson shot her as well, then left the bodies on the side of the road.
James and Lawson were granted motions for a new trial in September 2011, when a judge ruled that the two men were not granted the same critical evidence in their initial trial that was given to a co-defendant who was ultimately acquitted. A fourth defendant pleaded guilty to voluntary manslaughter and was sentenced to 10 years in prison.
Monday's Supreme Court ruling says that "James and Lawson did not establish that the missing page could not have been obtained with any reasonable diligence ... That their co-indictee's defense team recognized that a page was missing and obtained it defeats appellees' claim of suppression."
"We conclude the trial court erred and reverse the trial court's order granting new trials to James and Lawson," the Supreme Court opinion says.