Slaying case puts financial strain on Twiggs County

Total court costs for death penalty trial estimated at $500,000

The Telegraph
Macon, Georgia
February 14, 2004

By Sharon E. Crawford
Telegraph Staff Writer

JEFFERSONVILLE - Twiggs County officials are concerned about how to pay an estimated $500,000 in legal costs now that prosecutors are seeking the death penalty in the slaying of a Warner Robins cab driver.

Latarsha Fuller, 27, also of Warner Robins, could face the death penalty if convicted of the June stabbing death of 53-year-old Mary Singletary.

"It's going to be difficult," county manager Glenn Barton said Friday.

Barton said the county has already received a $5,000 charge for Fuller's psychological testing. He expects the county to be billed for more costs as the case progresses.

"Courts are notorious for stringing things along, and we're hoping it will take a couple of years for this case to go through the system," he said.

Dublin Circuit District Attorney Ralph Walke said the case could go to trial in Jeffersonville by the end of the year or next spring. It will be the first death penalty case in Twiggs County since the late 1970s.

"We have decided to seek the death penalty because we believe the statutory aggravated circumstances are present," Walke said. He declined to discuss specifics about the case Friday.

Because Fuller was declared indigent, Twiggs County taxpayers will have to foot the bill for her defense and, if convicted, her future appeals. The county also must pay for jurors to be sequestered and for additional expenses if the trial is moved.

The estimated cost is based on a past Wilkinson County death penalty case and is about 20 percent of the Twiggs County's overall annual budget, Barton said. He said the county will find money to pay the costs, but it won't be easy.

"We'll have to find a way to make it work," Barton said. "We're just not sure how we're going to do it."

Fuller was charged with murder, second-degree arson, armed robbery and false imprisonment in the case. She is being held without bond in the Twiggs County Jail.

GBI officials said Fuller killed Singletary after taking a cab ride from Warner Robins to rural Twiggs County. Investigators said Singletary was stabbed more than 30 times before being left in a wooded area near U.S. 129.

Singletary, who had driven for the White Top Cab Co. in Warner Robins for more than 20 years, was reported missing by family members and co-workers June 19. Her body was found the next day, about 200-300 yards from her burned cab.

Investigators said Fuller was a regular rider in Mary Singletary's cab, and it appears the motive for the homicide was armed robbery.

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