TIFTON -- A man who entered a last-minute guilty plea Tuesday was ordered to pay the cost for each juror on the panel who had arrived to hear the case.
Twelve jurors and one alternate juror were chosen Monday in Tift Superior Court to hear the burglary case of Demetrius Collins, 18, of Tifton. According to Tift Superior Court Judge J. Harvey Davis, the district attorney's plea bargain offer prior to jury selection Monday was a fair one, but Collins elected at that time to go to trial.
Collins' co-defendant in the April 25, 2003, burglary pleaded guilty after Collins' jury was chosen. Torrance Galmer was expected to testify in the Collins trial that Collins was guilty of the burglary.
Davis said "everyone is entitled to a jury trial" but that if a defendant realizes his or her guilt and still decides to "roll the dice" on a jury trial, that defendant should foot the bill for the jurors called.
"If he (Collins) had pled yesterday, we would have struck a jury in another case and been able to try another case this week," Davis said. "It is a waste of the resources and the court officials' time to strike a jury and then have no trial."
According to Gwen Pate, Tift County's Clerk of Court, jurors are paid $25 each per day of service. Collins' trial was expected to last for two days for a total jury cost of $650. Davis' decision is believed to be the first time a defendant has been ordered to pay jury costs in Tift County.
In addition to the jury cost, Davis sentenced Collins to serve 10 years on probation with the first nine to 12 months in a probation detention center. Collins was also ordered to pay $100 in restitution to the female burglary victim, a $1,000 fine, $125 in court cost and $250 in attorney fees. He was also ordered to pay $29 per month in probation supervision fees during the course of his probation. He was sentenced as a first offender.
Galmer was sentenced to serve 10 years on probation with the first six to nine months of that in a probation detention center. He was ordered to pay a $1,000 fine, $125 in court costs and restitution to the victim. He was also ordered to perform 100 hours of community service.
The trial of Stanford Lamar Lee was scheduled to begin this morning. He was indicted for the March 19, 2003, armed robbery of a clerk at the Lil' Pantry on Tift Avenue and the April 10, 2003, aggravated assault of a local woman during an attempted robbery.
To contact reporter Angie Thompson, call 382-4321, ext. 208.
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