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Arrest made in slaying of witness

Atlanta police have arrested a suspect in the slaying of an Atlanta bar owner who was scheduled to testify in a criminal trial. She was scheduled to testify in the upcoming trial of a man charged with killing one of the employees in her bar. The case raises interesting issues about criminal defense.

Police said they had been concerned for the woman's safety and had planned to place her in protective custody as well as patrol her home.

At the time of the incident, Atlanta police reported gunshots at a local lounge while patrolling the area. While police were apprehending one man who seemed to be leaving the lounge in a panic, two suspects walked past, got into a car and left the scene, police said. The man who had been initially detained claimed to be a victim of robbery and a witness to the shooting, and now it appears that an arrest of a suspect has been made.

Defenses to first degree murder in a criminal trial include arguing that the defendant did not commit the murder or did not commit murder in the first degree. Prosecutors must also prove that the defendant committed the murder willfully, deliberately and with premeditation. Defenses for committing the act may also include self-defense, justified homicide and defense of others.

In a crime such as this one, the police can be under tremendous pressure to make an arrest, and prosecutors can be under great pressure to get a conviction. Still, all suspects are presumed innocent until proven guilty, and all those charged with a serious crime are entitled to a vigorous defense.

Source: Atlanta Journal-Constitution, "Arrest made in killing of bar owner who was to testify at murder trial," David Ibata, Mike Morris and John Spink, Aug. 17, 2012

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