Whitehead twins plead 'not guilty' in mother's murder

CONYERS -- The murder case against sisters Jasmiyah and Tasmiyah Whitehead, accused of killing their mother in their Conyers home in 2010, appears to be moving closer to trial after they pleaded not guilty in Rockdale County Superior Court.

Attorneys for the teenagers waived a formal arraignment last week in Judge Sidney Nation's courtroom.

Rockdale County District Attorney Richard Read said the twins did not appear in the courtroom for the arraignment. He said defense attorneys indicated they will file motions, but the next court hearing has not been scheduled.

"No motions were filed, so far, and the scheduling of a hearing depends on what those motions are," he said. "Depending on that, a hearing can be done in October or November."

Jasmiyha and Tasmiyah Whitehead, both 17, are charged with murder in the death of their 34-year-old mother, Jarmecca Whitehead, in January 2010. The teens also face aggravated assault, malice murder and felony murder charges.

The pair told authorities they came home from school that afternoon to discover their mother's dead body in the bathroom. They were arrested by Conyers Police in May and charged with the murder of their mother.

The twins were originally indicted earlier this year, but the process was put on hold when Atlanta criminal defense attorney Dwight Thomas, who is defending Jasmiyah, filed a motion challenging the jury selection process in Rockdale County.

Thomas argued then in the court brief that the jury pools for both grand jury and trial juries were "woefully under-representative of the demographic realities of Rockdale County."

Nation place a moratorium on jury trials to allow the county's Jury Commission to update the jury pools to correspond with the 2010 U.S. Census. Results of the census for Rockdale County were released in March.

After work on the jury pools was completed, the Rockdale County Grand Jury reindicted the pair for the same charges last month, Read said.

Both suspects remain in custody separately in the Rockdale and Newton county jails. They will face trial together, Read said.