Several members of the victim’s family were present for a pre-trial motion hearing held June 7 in the case against a Winder man who is accused of killing his wife and dumping her body in a well. The hearing was held in courtroom four of the Barrow County Courthouse before Barrow County Superior Court Judge Joseph Booth. James Morris Lynn Jr., 42, was escorted into the courtroom bound in shackles and dressed in an orange and white jumpsuit. He is indicted on charges of aggravated assault, murder and felony murder in connection to the death of Tonya Royster Lynn, his deceased wife and the mother of their four children. His trial is scheduled to begin Monday, June 11.
On Thursday, Lynn’s defense attorneys, Beau Kaye and Stanton E. Porter, were requesting that certain elements be limited from the trial. They asked the court to exclude any mention of the defendant’s first wife, to limit the use of photographs, and to limit pre-trial disclosure of evidence or independent and separate offenses, wrongs or acts.
The defense also gave notice of their intent for Lynn to testify against his wife’s credibility with respect to fidelity and previous acts of violence, but those were overruled. Chief District Attorney Brad Smith at the June 7 hearing said the prosecution had not planned on bringing up the death of Lynn’s first wife unless it was relevant to the current case.
Julie Johnson Lynn died in 1989 from a gunshot wound to the forehead in the Metter, Ga., house she shared with Lynn. She was eight months pregnant. Her death was ruled a suicide. That information resurfaced following Tonya Lynn’s death. The GBI reopened the investigation into Julie Johnson Lynn’s death in August of 2011.
The defense’s motion states that “any mention of the defendant’s first wife, her
death, manner of death or subsequent investigation would be highly prejudicial and based on assumptions and unsubstantiated allegations.”
“That was ruled and is still ruled a suicide,” said Kaye, during the hearing. “He was very much in love with her.”
On June 1, Booth denied a request by Lynn’s defense attorneys to suppress a recorded confession made by Lynn to police during the days following Tonya Royster Lynn’s disappearance.
Jury selection will begin at 8:30 a.m. on Monday.
Barrow County Sheriff Jud Smith said that Lynn will be housed in the Barrow County jail during his trial. Since his court proceedings began, Lynn has been confined to the Athens-Clarke County jail due to an apparent conflict with some of the victim’s relatives who work/worked at the Barrow County jail.