Dantazias J. Raines’ motion for a new trial regarding his murder conviction for the 2011 shooting of Thomaston cab driver Brandy Guined was denied by Upson County Superior Court Judge Christopher C. Edwards on Monday, September 28. Raines’ next step will be to appeal the denial to the Georgia Supreme Court.
Raines and his attorney, Robert L. Mack of Stockbridge, are seeking the new trial based on Raines’ claims that his public defender in the original trial, Monica Hamlett, did not adequately defend him nor allow him to testify for himself. They originally appeared before Judge Edwards in a March 9, 2015 hearing. Four issues brought up in the hearing were:
1. A step-daughter of one of the state’s witnesses against Raines was on the jury.
2. The taped meeting allegedly between Raines and the state’s key witness, Marquarious Traylor.
3. A third party ballistic test on a gun found a year later was never done.
4. Hamlett didn’t allow Raines to testify for himself.
The issue of the step-daughter of a witness being on the jury resulted in the state subpoenaing the witness to testify at the Sept. 28 hearing.
“At a previous hearing, Raines had alleged that one of the jurors knew him and knew one of the witnesses that I called,” Coker said. “So we subpoenaed that juror to come to the hearing and testify. She testified that she didn’t know Dantazias, that the witness that testified was at one time married to her mother, but they had not been on speaking terms even before the trial, and she judged the case solely on the evidence presented. She didn’t have any bias either for or against Dantazias; she didn’t even know him.”
Following her testimony and closing arguments, Judge Edwards found all four issues to be without merit and that Hamlet had adequately defended Raines and denied the motion for a new trial.
Coker said Raines “acted up” in the courtroom after the denial, but was quickly restrained. Raines has since been transported back to Valdosta State Prison, where he will resume serving his life without parole sentence.
Coker said they can appeal to the Georgia Supreme Court, but said, in his opinion, the trial should stand.
“I don’t think there was any error in the case,” Coker said. “I don’t think there are any grounds for the case to be reversed.”
Larry Stanford may be reached at 706-647-5414 or on Twitter @LarryStanford7.