Gary Chad Thomason, of Jasper, was convicted of killing Self during a three-day bench trial heard by former Floyd County Superior Court Judge Larry Salmon in October 1996.
Salmon sentenced Thomason to death, but the decision was overturned by the Georgia Supreme Court in 2003.
In a decision written by Justice Robert Benham the court ruled that the lawyers failed to present mitigation evidence, including findings by mental health experts that Thomason had an IQ of 77 and that he suffered from “intellectual impairment, low self-esteem and depression.”
Benham said he believed the lawyers didn’t offer the evidence because they had waived a jury trial in favor of sentencing by Floyd County Superior Court Judge Larry Salmon, who they erroneously believed had never sought the death penalty as a district attorney and would therefore not impose it as a judge.
But Salmon had pursued the death penalty during his years as district attorney and he sentenced Thomason to death.
A jury will reconsider Thomason’s sentence, but that proceeding may not take place until spring of next year.
Judge Jack Niedrach said he would have liked to have the sentencing in January, but Christian Lamar, who represents Thomas through the Georgia Capital Defender program, said he had several other trials throughout the state that could conflict with January.
Thomason’s attorneys also presented 40 pretrial motions before Niedrach, with many of them focusing on jury selection.
Niedrach said he would rule on the motions by the end of July.
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