FULTON COUNTY, Ga. — A U.S. Marshal and Clayton County police officer charged in Fulton County with murdering Jamarion Robinson need to keep their case in Georgia, argued the Fulton County District Attorney's Office in new court documents.
Attorneys filed two motions Monday outlining their case for why Eric Heinze and Kristopher Hutchens should be denied their request to move their case to federal court. Huchens is a Clayton County officer who was serving on the U.S. Marshal Service SE Regional Fugitive Task Force at the time of the shooting; Heinze worked with the U.S. Marshals Task Force.
Lawyers for the law enforcement officers made their request to move their case to a higher court last month, after a Fulton County grand jury indicted the two with felony murder among other charges in Robinson's death.
Robinson was shot 59 times by law enforcement, which left him with 76 bullet wounds in 2016, according to a medical examiner report.
If their case is moved, court filings show the pair plan to seek immunity as federal officers.
"Federal immunity has never extended so far as to place government officials beyond the reach of criminal law," Fulton County's deputy district attorney wrote in the motion to attempt to keep the case with the state court. The line quotes a 1990 case that sets precedent, North Carolina v. Ivory.
However, the Fulton County DA's office claims the law enforcement officers are trying to get the case moved to have their immunity defense heard before what they believe "to be a more sympathetic forum," court records show.
Both defendants were indicted on state murder charges for killing a Georgia civilian while illegally executing a state arrest warrant, the deputy district attorney emphasized in the motions. The attorney adds Hutchens is a state employee and thus the case is inarguably under state jurisdiction, records show.
As for Heinze, attorneys argue he was not acting as a federal officer but as support for Atlanta Police Department while trying to execute a state warrant. APD tapped on a law enforcement task force which included U.S. Marshals, but the task force itself was not authorized to execute arrest warrants for violations of state law, court documents read.
"The Court should find that this matter does not qualify for federal officer removal on the face of the notice of removal," attorneys wrote.
For now, the case in Fulton County remains active as the law enforcement officers' request to move the case has not been approved. Both are out on bond.
11Alive has previously reached out to the law enforcement agencies to find out the employment status of Heinze and Hutchens. Last month, Clayton County Police confirmed Hutchens was placed on "administrative assignment." 11Alive is still working to get more details about Hutchens' employment status.