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Attorney for student murder suspect asks for bond

Larnell Sillah

Larnell Sillah

LAWRENCEVILLE -- The attorney for 14-year-old Paul Sampleton Jr.'s alleged murderer is asking a judge reconsider bond for his client, citing "incorrect and misleading evidence" presented at the original hearing.

Attorney Thomas West, who is representing 16-year-old Larnell Sillah in the December robbery and slaying, filed a motion Monday requesting that Gwinnett County Superior Court Judge Debra Turner schedule another bond hearing. In the motion, West argued that the testimony of a Gwinnett police detective during the original March 5 hearing has been proven erroneous.

"Apparently in an effort to bolster the case against defendant and in order to suggest the defendant was a threat to the community, the State questioned Detective (Andrew) Whaley concerning 'other crimes,'" the motion said.

During that line of questioning, Whaley mentioned a burglary "in the Archer area" on Dec. 18 -- the day before Sampleton was murdered -- that investigators believed Sillah was tied to. They were "just waiting on some results from some DNA," Whaley testified.

Sillah was denied bond.

About a week afterward, test results from blood collected at the scene were returned. The blood was not Sillah's.

"The effect of the evidence submitted by the prosecution on this issue in the Court's decision denying bond is unknown," West's motion said. "However, the possibility that the Court may had been misled on such a crucial issue makes the present motion imperative.

West has not been shy about making filings on Sillah's behalf. On April 12, he unsuccessfully argued that media be banned from pre-trial hearings and that his client be permitted to wear street clothes -- rather than the jail-issue orange jumpsuit -- during those hearings. He also asked that the Gwinnett County Police Department be prohibited from releasing information about the case.

Sillah was arrested in February alongside Achiel Morgan, 15, and Romaine Stewart, 18, and is the lone suspect charged with murder in Sampleton's death. Sampleton, a freshman at Grayson High School, was found bound and shot inside his Haynescrest Drive home on Dec. 19.

Authorities believe the trio targeted him for his expensive shoes and clothes.