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Lawyers Claim Grand Jury Foreman Was Beneficiary Of Murder Victim

August 30, 1985

MONROE, La. (AP) _ Lawyers for a man accused of stabbing a minister to death have asked a judge to throw out the indictment on the grounds that the foreman of the grand jury that charged the man was a beneficiary of the victim.

Lawyers for Winthrop Earl Eaton, 20, said grand jury foreman Marie Medak received a bequest of jewelry from the Rev. Lea Joyner, 67, who was killed in March. They also said Mrs. Medak’s husband was the executor of Ms. Joyner’s will.

In their motion to have the indictment thrown out, Eaton’s lawyers said the Medaks’ relationship to Ms. Joyner might have prejudiced the grand jury.

State Judge John Harrison took the matter under advisement Thursday.

He also said he would consider a request from the News-Star-World, Monroe’s daily newspaper, to make public the transcript of Eaton’s sanity hearing. Defense lawyers argued releasing the transcript would hurt their client’s chances of getting a fair trial.

Ms. Joyner founded the Southside United Methodist Church and served as its pastor for almost 33 years.

She was kidnapped from the church, killed and her body was left in a field north of Monroe. Eaton was arrested soon afterward in Little Rock, Ark.