DOUGHERTY CO., GA (WALB) - On Thursday, three defendants went before Dougherty County Superior Court Judge Denise Marshall, each one charged with a capital crime.
"These are matters that we believe is appropriate for a jury to determine the appropriate punishment," explained District Attorney Greg Edwards.
The hearing is part of the early stages in what is a long process for two of the men who are charged with crimes that happened in the last year.
But for the third man, who has been behind bars for seven years, his trial date is expected sooner.
Arelious Haynes, Shanorris Taylor and Gregory Evans have been indicted by a grand jury on aggravated statutory circumstances.
Prosecutors are calling the murders in court "vile, horrible and inhumane."
Haynes is charged with murdering two women in 2017. The indictment reveals two children under the age of 10 saw the crime committed.
And Evans' case dates back to 2011. He is charged with the murder of a 19-month-old child.
"First a jury determines whether or not an individual is guilty or not guilty, then the jury determines the punishment," explained Edwards.
Haynes, Taylor and Evans are only three of seven people in Dougherty County the state is seeking the death penalty for. It's a small percentage of cases in relation to the number of homicides Dougherty county has seen in the last few years.
"Every homicide is not a death penalty case," said Edwards.
Capital punishment can take longer to prosecute.
Evans has been locked up since 2011 with more than 100 motions filed since then. He's an example of how slowly the wheels of justice turn in a death penalty trial.
"The process that's outlined requires the court take steps to make sure every potential issue and right of the defendant is recognized and addressed by the pre-trial motions so everything that can be considered is considered before we get to the trial," explained Edwards.
The men did not speak much in court on Thursday other than claiming their rights to remain silent.
Haynes did show emotion and could be seen wiping his face when the prosecutors read him his charges.
Edwards is leading the cases for the murder trials. He is being assisted by other attorneys within his office.
Georgia Capital Defender Gerald Word is representing the defense, along with another capital defender in the state's office.