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Attorneys Preparing Request For New Trial For Wayne Williams

November 4, 1985

ATLANTA (AP) _ A lawyer for Wayne Williams said Sunday night he plans to ask for a new trial for the man convicted of two of Atlanta’s child murders, based on new police documents obtained in the case.

Attorney Lynn Whatley said a petition for habeas corpus would be filed ″imminently″ in Butts County, where Williams is serving a life sentence at the Georgia Diagnostic and Classification Center.

Whatley declined to discuss specifics of the request until they have been filed with the Superior Court in Butts County, but confirmed it will be based at least in part on ″new law enforcement documents obtained.″

Williams, 27, was convicted of killing two black men in their 20s. They were among 29 young blacks whose slayings or disappearances between 1979 and 1981 made up a list of cases investigated by a special police task force.

USA Today reported in Monday’s editions that the documents include a confidential police memo indicating an informant told authorities the Ku Klux Klan was involved in the string of killings or disappearances.

The newspaper said it obtained the documents and confirmed their authenticity with lawyers in the case.

Whatley told The Associated Press he couldn’t comment on the report because he had not seen it.

The internal memos show an informant came to the police after the death of a 14-year-old boy, and told police that a Klansman had bragged beforehand that he would kill the child, USA Today said.

The prosecutor in the case, Fulton County District Attorney Lewis Slaton, said the tip was investigated but no Klan link to the murders was found.

The investigation of possible Klan involvement in the murders included wiretaps and infiltration by informants, Georgia Bureau of Investigation chief Robbie Hamrick said.

Williams was convicted of killing Nathaniel Cater and Jimmy Ray Payne. But the trial judge permitted evidence connected with 10 other murders to show the two deaths were part of a larger pattern of killings.

Slaton denied documents were kept from the defense, the newspaper said, and attacked the credibility of the informant who provided the memos.

When the Georgia Supreme Court rejected Williams’ first appeal of his conviction, one judge argued the conviction should be overturned because the prosecution introduced evidence relating to crimes Williams had not been charged with.

Chet Dettlinger, an Atlanta private investigator who wrote a book about the case, told The Associated Press that the document about a possible Klan connection was just one of many documents not provided to the defense team.

″I think basically the real issue has nothing to do with the Ku Klux Klan. It has to do with whether the defense was provided with all the information required″ under law, Dettlinger said.

″I certainly wouldn’t get too excited about the fact that the Ku Klux Klan was mentioned,″ he said.

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