Ben Thomas Abbott pled not guilty to murdering his wife’s parents in February of this year, during a routine arraignment in Pickens Superior Court last week.
The state has filed notice they intend to seek the death penalty for Abbot, who is charged with murdering Raymond and Cythina Campbell with a shotgun at their home on Long Swamp Church Road. According to the testimony of a GBI agent during a February pre-trial hearing, Abbott confessed to killing his in-laws, hoping to make the slayings look like a robbery, so he could collect on life insurance polices. He told the GBI agent that he, his wife and their four children were going to lose their home.
Last week, the court also addressed the “unified appeal checklist.” This 40-page list of conditions applies to all capital cases in Georgia.
District Attorney Joe Hendricks said the unified appeal checklist is standard procedure to remind both the prosecution and defense of potential issues with capital cases.
Hendricks called the arraignment and first proceeding under the capital procedures to be typical for this type of case.
“It was exactly as you would expect under these circumstances,” he said.
Next, the prosecution will provide its case files to the defense under discovery procedures. Abbott, an Ellijay resident at the time of the slayings, is being represented by Jerry Ward from the Georgia Capital Defender office.
Following discovery, the defense will have 60 days to file motions. The motions will probably be heard in January.
Chronology of other stories:
Two Dead in Home Invasion-- February 9, 2011
Son in Law Arrested in Double Murder Wednesday -- February 9, 2011
Death Penalty Sought for Ben Thomas Abbott -- June, 15, 2011 print edition for full story
Abbott shows no remorse -- reprint from Times Courier