ATLANTA — The state of Georgia is trying to, once again, secure a death sentence for an admitted killer.
Nicholas Tate pleaded guilty to charges of murder, kidnapping, child cruelty and more in the 2001 killing of a young mother and her 3-year-old daughter.
But minutes before he was set to be put to death, the courts threw out his death sentence and gave him a stay of execution after he argued his lawyers were ineffective. The conviction stood, however, and Tate remained imprisoned for the murders.
Tuesday, his case was heard in front of the Georgia Supreme Court.
"The facts show that petitioner did not want mitigating evidence presented at trial. He told his trial counsel that. Trial counsel presented very little," said Beth Burton, with the Attorney General's Office.
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Tate and his two brothers all pleaded guilty for the December 2001 murder of Chrissie Williams and her young daughter. The victims were killed inside their Paulding County home.
The double-murder was the start of a weekend of terror. The brothers allegedly kidnapped a gas station employee in Mississippi. They later turned themselves into the FBI in Oklahoma City.
But, years later, the state wants to reinstate the death penalty for Tate, saying he ultimately didn't let his lawyers fight the death penalty sentence.
"About a year went by with almost no contact between counsel and Mr. Tate. Around two visits in ten months," said Tate's current lawyer, Mark Olive.
The State Supreme Court heard oral arguments on Tuesday. They're expected to make a decision in the coming months.