Woman asks court to overturn conviction in stepdaughter's death

by: Richard Elliot Updated:

HENRY COUNTY, Ga. - The Henry County woman convicted of taking part in the beating death of her 11-year old stepdaughter now wants the Georgia Supreme Court to overturn her conviction.

Charlott Reaves and her husband, Rodney, were convicted in the 2003 murder of Joella Reaves.

Police found Joella Reaves' body in the family's garage.

Investigators say both parents admitted to punishing Joella for acting out by hog-tying her with speaker wire and by beating her with a paddle, an umbrella and a baseball bat. Medical examiners say Reaves died from the multiple wounds.

Henry County Police picked up Charlott Reaves that day and brought her back to headquarters where they talked with her for 14 minutes before reading her her Miranda rights. During that time, her attorney said Reaves made several statements about needing a lawyer, but wasn't given the opportunity to contact one.

"During those 14 minutes, out of her mouth came the word 'lawyer' or 'attorney' 10 times," Reaves' attorney Franklin Hogue told the justices. "This woman is clearly in need of the protection afforded to her under Miranda of counsel."

But Hogue conceded some of those statements were vague and were not really direct requests for an attorney, such as, "Maybe I need a lawyer" and "We're going to have to come back with a lawyer." But Hogue argued that taken in their totality, police should have realized she needed an attorney.
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After those initial 14 minutes, Reaves was read her rights and, according to police, made incriminating statements before formally requesting an attorney. Hogue argued that all questioning should have ceased after she made those initial statements about a lawyer.

He wants the Supreme Court to not only throw out the conviction and grant a new trial, but he wants all the incriminating statements to be thrown out as well.

Prosecutor Jim Wright told the justices that Reaves was not in custody during those initial 14 minutes so there was no need for her to be read her rights. Wright also argued that Reaves' statements about attorneys were vague and not true requests for counsel.

"She indicated she fully understood her rights when asked on several occasions, and at no time did she unambiguously and clearly request an attorney," said Wright.

It may take the justices months to render a decision in the case.