Attorneys for a Buford man facing the death penalty failed this week to convince a Forsyth County Superior Court judge that statements their client had made during an interrogation were inadmissible.
Nakitta Holmes, 19, of Buford pleaded not guilty in June to two counts of armed robbery, one count of aggravated assault, one count of murder and two counts of felony murder.
Authorities have said Holmes shot and killed 37-year-old security guard David Casto on Sept. 5, 2010, during an armed robbery at Ingles grocery store on Canton Road.
Sharod Johnson, 18, and Tyrice Kendall Adside, 19, both of Forsyth County, and Tavarius Jackson, 17, of Buford have pleaded not guilty to the same charges.
In addition, Holmes has also been indicted on one count of possession of a firearm by a convicted felon.
Forsyth County District Attorney Penny Penn is not seeking capital punishment against the other three suspects.
Authorities have not yet recovered the weapon used in the shooting, which they think was Casto’s 9mm Glock.
On Wednesday, Holmes joined his appointed attorneys, Joseph Romond and Brad Gardner, in Forsyth County Superior Court for a daylong session of pretrial motion hearings.
A video recording reviewed in court showed that Holmes told Forsyth County Sheriff’s investigators during an interview at the time of his arrest that he understood his Miranda rights, though he did not sign the document asserting such.
Gardner argued that his client at different times during the interview either invoked his right to remain silent or to have a lawyer present.
Penn countered that Holmes continued talking to investigators and never directly said he wanted to stop doing so or asked for a lawyer.
According to the video, Holmes repeatedly denied having any knowledge of or involvement in the shooting and armed robbery.
Money found in a backpack he was wearing at the time of his arrest was from “selling weed,” he said.
In his decision, Forsyth County Superior Court Chief Judge Jeffrey S. Bagley said Holmes never clearly invoked his rights, nor did he think Holmes was coerced.
In addition, Bagley denied requests to suppress physical evidence against Holmes and to bar the state from seeking the death penalty against him because of his age at the time of the crime.
Bagley did, however, grant requests to file additional motions in the case and to order the prosecution to preserve all evidence and not destroy or alter it without first notifying the defense.