Fulton County Superior Court Judge Scott McAfee denied severing the cases of attorneys Kenneth Chesebro and Sidney Powell from the other seventeen co-conspirators in Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis’s expansive election interference case. In arguments that took less than ninety minutes, Judge McAfee believed the October 23rd trial date would stick for Chesebro and Powell.
“Based on what’s been presented today,” Powell said, “I am not finding that severance from Mr. Chesebro or Ms. Powell is necessary to achieve a fair determination of the guilt or innocence for either defendant.”
It must be highlighted that Powell’s request to sever her case from all defendants was partially denied because Judge McAfee ordered her case to be tried with Chesebro.
Judge McAfee expressed concern with Willis’s request of trying all of the co-defendants together on October 23rd. But, with Wednesday’s ruling, that belief has been nullified and more importantly, it damages former President Donald J. Trump’s request to sever from the alleged co-conspirators.
“The state is still sticking to the position that all these defendants should remain [together] and they want to address some of these removal issues,” McAfee said. “I’m willing to hear that. I remain very skeptical. But we can. I’m willing to hear what you have to say on it.”
Chesebro is charged with violating the Georgia RICO act, conspiracy to impersonate a public officer, two counts of conspiracy to commit forgery in the first degree, two counts of conspiracy to commit false statements and writings, and conspiracy to commit filing false documents. Chesebro says he was crafting legal advice for former President Trump.
“It’s pretty clear that the state is trying to use RICO in order to connect three or four different alleged conspiracies into one folks who have never met each other,” said Scott Grubman, an attorney for Chesebro. “Folks, we’re in no way associated as a matter of fact or law. Again, we respect the court’s decision. Clearly we’re going to be tried alongside Miss Powell. But we will file additional motions to make sure that the trial that we have with Miss Powell was fair, and that Mr. Chesebro is judged on the evidence that’s attributable to him and that the jury judges everyone on their own accord.”
Meanwhile, Powell is charged with racketeering, conspiracy to commit election fraud, conspiracy to commit computer theft, trespass and invasion of privacy and conspiracy to defraud the state. Prosecutors alleged Powell’s computer theft charge is related to an effort to improperly access voting machines in Coffee County, Georgia.
Powell filed a motion last month to sever her case from the other co-defendants, saying she “has no substantive connection with any other defendant regarding the charges in the Indictment.” Chesebro’s attorney, Manubir Arora said Powell’s charges are ‘more provocative.’
“Her charges are way more provocative versus the boring old charges that we have, as far as just sort of the paperwork type situation and that’s what I worry about,” Arora said.
Prosecutors say it would take four months to try their case (excluding jury selection), and have 150 witnesses willing to testify.
Judge McAfee also said he hopes to resolve the severance issue among others this week.
“The plan would be to try to resolve as many of these issues as we can this week, and to begin entering scheduling orders for the remaining defendants by either the end of this week or the early next week,” he said.