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Judge: Plea to dismiss denied
Suspect's attorneys sought to have case tossed
Sosniak WEB


A request to dismiss the case against one of three defendants facing the death penalty in connection with a 2006 massacre at a south Forsyth farmhouse has been denied.

In a 13-page order signed Friday, Forsyth County Superior Court Judge David L. Dickinson wrote that Marcin Sosniak’s constitutional right to a speedy trial has not been violated.

Sosniak has pleaded not guilty to multiple charges in connection with the March 19, 2006, attack that took the lives of four people and injured three at a residence off Ronald Reagan Boulevard.

His trial has been delayed three times since December.

Bill Finch, one of Sosniak’s two appointed attorneys, said Friday afternoon they were still reviewing Dickinson’s ruling.

“We haven’t had an opportunity to fully digest the order yet, but the next step will be an appeal to the (Georgia) Supreme Court,” Finch said.

Forsyth County District Attorney Penny Penn said several legal steps must be taken before the case goes before the higher court.

“This process will take several months,” she said. “So this case will be delayed longer … we remain ready. We will be ready just as we have announced ‘ready’ every time for when this case goes to trial.”

Dickinson denied a request Oct. 6 by Finch and Sosniak’s other attorney, Charles Haldi, to continue the case. Jury selection in the trial had been scheduled to begin Oct. 10.

In a request to dismiss the case filed Oct. 7, Haldi and Finch contended the state has failed to pay them for Sosniak’s defense, thus preventing the case from going forward.

The Georgia Public Defender Standards Council is responsible for paying attorneys who represent indigent defendants in capital cases.

The council suffered a financial crisis in 2008. And in 2009, attorneys statewide began asking to withdraw from cases because of the council’s inability to pay them.

Travis Sakrison, council director, testified during a hearing Oct. 21 that the only request for payment submitted by Haldi and Finch was a bill for $2,400 for an expert witness in 2010. That bill was paid, he said.

Frank Ortegon and Jason McGhee, who also are charged in connection with the farmhouse attack and face the death penalty, are being tried separately.

They too are represented by appointed attorneys. Penn has said the state plans to try Sosniak’s case first.

A document Haldi and Finch filed in support of their request to dismiss the case shows that they did receive about $50,000 in late 2010 to be used for Sosniak’s defense, though the money is only about a third of the requested defense budget and did not come from the council.

“(It) was apparently appropriated from sums which (the council) had earmarked for the defense of another individual,” the document shows. “These funds have been deposited into the registry of the court and are controlled by the court, not by the defense.”