Both suspects convicted in the brutal murder of a College Park man could soon be set free.
Charles Elder was found dead on December 7, 1997. He had been stabbed 50 times after an apparent robbery.
Cousins Craig and Elliot Sheard were arrested and later convicted in the murder. The jury concluded that Craig Sheard stabbed Elder while Elliot was his accomplice. Both were sentenced to life in prison.
Elliot Sheard spent years working on his own appeal, sometimes in handwritten letters to the judge.
As the process dragged on, the only eyewitness in the case recanted his testimony, saying Elliot Sheard was not at the crime scene. A second witness implicated a different neighbor.
The district attorney’s office admitted some key parts of the trial transcript had been lost.
Last week, the Georgia Supreme Court ruled the missing documents and the 20-year delay would rob the defendants of due process and unanimously reversed Elliot Sheard’s conviction. 11Alive has learned that they also have done the same for Elliot Sheard.
“Normally, a motion for a new trial, that really should be resolved in about six to 12 months. I think it’s going to sit around much longer, someone’s to blame. Either the court reporter, the judge, the lawyers or a combination of everybody,” said legal expert Page Pate.
District Attorney Paul Howard says he’s not sure if there will be any new trials in this case, so there is the chance that both men could be set free.
Elliot Sheard’s attorney says his client wants to prove his innocence and clear his name though he’ll never get back those 20 years in prison.