Local News

Display Of 10 Commandments Causes Problems In Murder Trial

Posted February 3, 2004 5:01 a.m. EST

— The latest fight over the display of the Ten Commandments found its way into a Nash County murder trial.

Jeremy Hayes said after three long years, he is relieved to see Andre Edwards, who is accused of killing Hayes' wife, Ginger Hayes, and leaving his then-11-month-old son for dead, going to trial. However, before Edwards walked into the courtroom, his attorneys fought to make changes to the courtroom walls.

Edwards' attorney filed a motion last week requesting the judge cover two panels that displayed the Ten Commandments on either side of the bench. The defense argued leaving the panels exposed would not be fair, especially because Edwards could face the death penalty if he's convicted.

Superior Court Judge Quentin Sumner agreed to keep them covered through this trial in part to avoid an appeal. Assistant district attorney Keith Warner calls it a travesty of justice.

"They've been there for 90-some years. They were hand-painted on there. They've basically never been an issue in any other trial or case before and it shouldn't have been an issue in this case," he said.

"It is annoying that they even addressed that, that it was even addressed in the matter," said Jeremy Hayes. "I don't see how that has any bearing on this case in itself."

The judge in the case told potential jurors to be prepared for what could be a lengthy selection process. The judge said it could be several weeks before attorneys make their opening statements.

Edwards' attorneys declined to speak with WRAL about their rationale to have the Ten Commandments covered.

The Ten Commandments controversy is nothing new. Earlier this year, a monument was removed from outside the Winston-Salem City Hall. Last year, Alabama's Chief Justice Roy Moore lost his job in a dispute over a Ten Commandments monument outside the state's Supreme Court.