nonprofit is fighting to stop the execution of a Paulding County man who murdered a woman and her 3-year-old daughter. But records show Nicholas Tate doesn't want the help.
Channel 2 investigative reporter Jodie Fleischer contacted the director of Atlanta's Federal Defender Program, which receives federal funding.
Director Stephanie Kearns hung up when Fleischer asked why the group is fighting so hard to prolong the life of a murderer who confessed and said he's ready to face his punishment.
Tate admits he and his two brothers went to a Paulding County home in 2001, shot and killed Chrissie Williams, and cut the throat of her 3-year-old daughter, Katelyn.
"I think they are very ready for this to be over with," District Attorney Dick Donovan said, who's office prosecuted Tate's case.
"I know that he has asked specifically that the sentence be carried out, that he has refused to talk to lawyers. He refers to them as leeches. He doesn't want anything to do with anyone who would go forward on his behalf," Donovan said.
In court records from 2009, Tate told a judge, "I'm sorry for doing it, but that does not mitigate the fact that I'm still guilty and that justice is being denied. Until I am put to death, justice is being denied." He added, "I have a full understanding of what's going on," and about his lawyers he said, "they want to twist, elude divert, I refer to them as public pretenders."
Fleischer tried to question Federal Defender Program attorney Jeff
Ertel, who is heading up the effort to save Tate.
"Can you tell me a little bit about what you guys do?" Fleischer asked.
"No comment," replied Ertel, as he walked past the camera after Tate's Clemency Board hearing Monday.
He did not respond when Fleischer asked, "I thought you were fighting on his behalf, you don't want to tell us why?"
As recently as Jan. 20, Tate was back in front of a judge, clearly saying "I do not want life without parole."
His brother, Dustin Tate, had suddenly filed a petition on Nicholas Tate's behalf, trying to stop the execution.
"I don't know how they did that. But, the brother, Dustin, is serving a sentence in prison, so he wasn't exactly out on the street looking for help," Donovan said.
The district attorney is particularly concerned amid allegations that a representative of the Federal Defender Program deposited money into the brother's prison account.
"That allegation was communicated to me [Thursday]. And I was sent some documents which I have reviewed," Donovan said.
"If they are buying the intent to try to file, is that a concern?" Fleischer asked.
"That would be highly improper. Anytime you try to persuade anyone by the use of money, that's wrong," replied Donovan, adding that so far he has no proof.
"Did you pay money to the brother to file an appeal? Can you comment on that," Channel 2 asked Ertel with no response.
Donovan is considering filing a complaint with the Georgia Bar Association to investigate.
"I'm not ever going to say someone shouldn't stand up for what they believe in. It's how they do it that I may question eventually," Donovan said.
Nicholas Tate was denied clemency late Monday afternoon. He is scheduled to die by lethal injection Tuesday evening.
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