Ga. can pick up prosecution of York's
Macon Telegraph/October 29, 2003
By Rob Peecher
Eatonton -- The Georgia Court of Appeals has ruled that the
state can continue its prosecution of accused child molester Kathy
Johnson, a co-defendant with United Nuwaubian Nation of Moors
leader Malachi York and the woman referred to by York's followers
as his "main wife," is accused of molesting children with York.
She faces 10 counts of child molestation and two counts of
aggravated child molestation.
The appellate court's ruling would allow York and Johnson to be
tried together, but prosecutors say that's not likely.
Johnson's attorney, Brian Steele, filed a demand for a speedy
trial, and in January he argued that the state did not meet the
legal requirements under a speedy-trial demand and sought to have
the case dismissed.
Ocmulgee Superior Court Judge William Prior denied the
defense's request, finding that two terms of court had expired
without Johnson going to trial from the time that her attorney
filed the speedy trial demand, but also that there was no jury
impaneled to decide the case during the first court term.
Last week, the state appellate court upheld Prior's decision,
finding that the jury Steele argued counted in the first term had
been discharged, and therefore the clock didn't start running
until after the next term of court began.
Steele can ask the appellate court to reconsider the case and
can also appeal the decision to the Georgia Supreme Court.
District Attorney Fred Bright said Tuesday, after learning of
the court of appeals' decision, that if Steele chooses not to
appeal, he will have less than three months to get Johnson to
Johnson was to have been tried with York, but in January he
pleaded guilty to 77 state charges of molestation. York, who with
Johnson also faced related federal charges, at the time also
pleaded guilty to the federal charges. Last week, a federal judge
ruled that York had withdrawn his guilty plea to the federal
charges, and York is now scheduled to go to trial on the federal
charges in January.
York has not withdrawn his guilty plea to the state charges,
though he has not been sentenced and could withdraw his plea
before he is sentenced. But Bright said that as it stands now, he
anticipates trying Johnson alone if she does not appeal or if the
appellate courts continue to rule against her.
Johnson pleaded guilty in April to a reduced federal charge of
having knowledge of a crime but not participating in the crime.
York and his followers moved from New York to Putnam County in
1993 to a 476-acre farm. There they erected numerous
Egyptian-style structures, among them two pyramids and a sphinx,
and York claimed to be an alien from the planet "Rizq."
York and Johnson were arrested in May 2002 after a number of
children and adults who grew up in his sect came forward with
allegations that York, Johnson and others had molested them.