Tapley changes plea again, jury selection continues

Georgia

Day two of jury selection in the trial of 19-year-old Jervarceay Tapley, 21-year-old Raheam Gibson and 17-year-old Rufus Burks. They’re accused in the brutal killings of a grandmother, her son and granddaughter back in January 2016. 

Monday, Raheam Gibson, pled guilty to malice murder and other charges on the condition he would testify against Tapley and Burks. But now, another defendant has changed his mind again, about accepting a plea deal.

Defendant 19-year-old Jervarceay Tapley, once again changed his mind to plead guilty to three counts of malice murder.

The three suspects, Gibson, Burks and Tapley faced a total ten charges in the 2016 triiple murder of Gloria Short, her teenage son Caleb Short and granddaughter Gianna Lindsey. Monday, Gibson and Tapley were both set to plead guilty to the first three counts of malice murder; however, at the last minute on the stand, Tapley changed his mind to go to trial instead.

Tuesday, Tapley’s defense attorney told News 3 his client felt pressured by the weight of the murders, but had time to re-think things overnight.

“I do know he’s a young kid and this is an all around bad situation. He was afforded the opportunity to make a decision on his own, provided all relevant information to him, and he made a decision. He entered a plea,” says Shevon Thomas.

Family members of victim Caleb Short tell News 3 Short and Tapley grew up together and Tapley was like a member of the family before the violent murders. Tapley’s lawyer says thoughts of the family weighed heavily on his decision.

“He did not want to put the family through a trial,” says Shevon Thomas.

Tapley will be sentenced March 22 after a pre-sentencing investigation. Gibson’s guilty plea is dependent on his testimony in court against Rufus Burks who now stands as the only defendant.

Burks’ lawyer requested for the jury panel process to start over now that potential jurors will only evaluate one suspect, but Judge Gil McBride denied the motion. Tuesday’s questioning has been slow as both prosecutors and defenders have been very particular about how much the potential jurors know about the case from news coverage.

Two-thirds of the pool were sent home for the day to reschedule for later in the week.

The victims, 54-year-old grandmother Gloria Short, her son 17-year-old Caleb Short and her granddaughter 10-year-old Gianna Lindsey.
 

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