Ex-Atlanta Public School Superintendent Beverly Hall arrives at court with her attorney J. Tom Morgan on Friday, May 3, 2013.
ATLANTA - Beverly Hall, the biggest name in the Atlanta Public schools cheating scandal, may never go to trial. Sources say the former Atlanta Public Schools superintendent is very ill -- with what they describe as stage four breast cancer.
Dr. Hall's name was the one that appeared at the top of a 35 person indictment handed down by a Fulton County grand jury earlier this year. She and most of the rest of the defendants are due to go to trial next year. But Dr. Hall's health may change everything. The former superintendent had fought breast cancer previously.
Beverly Hall wore a wig when she reported to the Fulton County jail following her indictment -- which may have masked the effects of her ongoing cancer treatment. Although she's months away from trial, prosecutors are already eyeing the possibility they may never take her to trial because of her poor health.
"I mean, you're not looking to give someone a death penalty, particularly for this type of case," said attorney Jerry Froelich, a former prosecutor who has no involvement in the APS cheating case.
Froehlich believes prosecutors will offer Dr. Hall a plea deal that would keep her out of a courtroom and out of prison as well.
"I understand why everybody takes (the cheating case) seriously. But this is not something that, if someone is terminally ill, you should proceed against," Froelich said.
Prosecutors are expected to rest their case against Tamara Cotman as early as Tuesday. She's the APS administrator who sought a speedy trial, separating her case from those of 34 other defendants -- including Dr. Hall.
Regardless of the outcome of Cotman's trial, sources say prosecutors will likely ask other defendants to plead guilty to minor charges. In exchange, they could get sentences of probation -- meaning they'd do no jail time -- and first offender status, which would eliminate any convictions from their criminal record.
"They'll probably offer deals you couldn't refuse," Froelich said.
Attorneys for the other defendants have been in the courtroom for Cotman's trial. The outcome of Cotman's trial will likely affect how quickly and how willingly other defendants -- including Dr. Hall -- will discuss plea deals.
An attorney for Dr. Hall, J. Tom Morgan, declined to discuss Dr. Hall's health. He said his client is still expecting to fight for an acquittal at trial.