ATLANTA,None — A man's murder conviction was thrown out over a mistake on a verdict form. The state Supreme Court gave him another chance at a trial, even though justices agreed he was guilty.
Five years ago, robbers burst into an apartment on Godby Road in College Park and shot two men, killing one. A jury convicted Soniel Cheddersingh of murder, aggravated assault and armed robbery to the relief of residents in a high-crime area.
"He got to deal with his punishment," resident Ivan Johnson told Channel 2's Jeff Dore.
But the state Supreme Court said the Fulton County trial court's pre-printed verdict form ruined the verdict. It said the jury could find him guilty or not guilty beyond a reasonable doubt, which is not the standard for not guilty.
The court wrote the presumption of innocence is fundamental in a criminal trial and with that form, the court misinformed the jury. Its unanimous ruling said that not only affects the fairness of that proceeding itself, but public confidence in the judicial process as a whole.
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