A capital murder trial connected to a 2017 double homicide in DeBerry has been stayed pending an order from the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals.

The order halted all court proceedings in the trial of Marlon Kelly, the suspected shooter in the case. Kelly is charged with capital murder in the shooting deaths of Shayla Carson, 18, of Waskom and Dalton Berry, 21, of Panola, as well as a related aggravated assault with a deadly weapon charge. Kelly is one of four Bossier City men charged in the case, along with Cartrell Williamson, Cordarius Thompson and Mose Smith.

Kelly’s trial was originally set to take place this week after years of delays due to crime lab analysis and COVID-19 shutdowns.

The court’s order, case NO. WR-93,194-01, was in response to a petition for writ of prohibition filed by James Huggler. A copy of the petition was not immediately available. Huggler was appointed special prosecutor in the case in September 2020.

“The petition requests that we issue a writ of prohibition in the underlying case, ordering the district court to not proceed with the trial in this cause and to prohibit the use of certain potential jurors in this trial and any criminal trial in Panola County,” the order read.

Jury selection, set for Monday, has been stayed pending the court’s order. Anyone summoned for jury selection Tuesday does not need to appear, the Panola County District Clerk’s office said Monday.

Panola County judicial records had noted as recently as Sunday that a guilty plea hearing was also scheduled for Monday at 1:30 p.m. But that too was stayed by the court’s order, a fact they clarified Monday after Huggler filed a second motion.

“Relator has now filed a second motion for emergency relief stating that a plea hearing is scheduled in this cause for Monday, October 18, 2021,” the order read. “The motion requests that the Court clarify that all proceedings of any sort are stayed pending further order from this Court... This Court has stayed the trial proceedings in the case. That stay includes all proceedings, including any pre-trial hearings, voir dire, jury proceedings, plea proceedings, or any matter regarding this cause until further order of this Court. All other requests for relief in the second motion for emergency relief are hereby denied.”

Court records show a hearing in the case took place last Thursday with Judge Leeann Kay Rafferty, where Kelly was present with defense attorney Chris Botto.

“Testimony given. Defendant rejected plea offer and does not desire to counter offer,” court notes read. “Defense stated it did not join in any of State’s appellate motions and announced ready for trial.”

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Editor

Meredith Shamburger serves as the regional editor for Carthage and Kilgore. She has previously worked at the Longview News-Journal, the Marshall News Messenger and The Dallas Morning News. Meredith graduated from Southern Methodist University in 2011.