The state attorney general’s office asked the Georgia Supreme Court on Tuesday, Aug. 6, to reinstate two death sentences to a man for his role in the murder of a Paulding woman and her daughter in late 2001.
It is an appeal of a lower court’s 2018 ruling that vacated the death sentences given to Nicholas Cody Tate for his role in murdering a woman and her 3-year-old daughter in the victims’ Paulding County home in December 2001.
The gruesome murders of Chrissie Williams and daughter, Katelyn, followed a home invasion by Tate and his two brothers.
Williams’ husband had previously sold Nicholas Tate methamphetamine and the three brothers planned to burglarize the home and steal drugs and money, according to information from the Georgia Supreme Court.
Tate’s two brothers in 2002 each pleaded guilty in a Paulding County court in exchange for life prison sentences with the possibility of parole.
Tate pleaded guilty to the two murders in 2005 and opted to waive his right to a jury trial. The trial judge then sentenced Tate to death and in 2010 the state Supreme Court upheld Tate’s convictions and death sentences.
Hours before his execution on Jan. 31, 2012, Tate filed a state petition for a writ of habeas corpus and stay of execution.
Habeas corpus allows already convicted prisoners to challenge the legality of their imprisonment on constitutional grounds, typically against the warden in the county where they are held. Tate’s case was filed in Butts County against warden Benjamin Ford.
However, in 2018, the court hearing the habeas corpus claim left his convictions intact but vacated Tate’s death sentences based on ineffective representation by Tate’s trial attorneys, according to information from the Court.
The court on Tuesday will be hearing the state’s appeal of the vacating of the death sentences, according to court information.
The state is arguing that Tate refused to allow his attorneys to present potentially mitigating evidence — such as an abusive upbringing and longtime drug usage — and did not allow the state to call Tate as a witness.
Tate’s attorneys say he was not properly represented because he never asked them not to present the potential mitigating evidence.
The Georgia Attorney General’s office, including Attorney General Christopher Carr and assistant attorney general Beth Burton, are representing the warden in the case.
Vanessa Carroll of the Georgia Resource Center and Tallahassee, Florida, attorney Mark Evan Olive, a longtime defender of indigent inmates, are representing Tate.
The court typically takes about six months to render a decision, a court spokesperson said.