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Samuels to face death penalty in Hefner case

A McDuffie County man is scheduled to be arraigned May 26 on various charges in connection with the death of a Thomson woman.

If convicted of the March 2004 murder of Barbara Hefner, Danny Lee Samuels could face the death penalty, according to Toombs Judicial Circuit District Attorney Dennis Sanders.

During the hearing in McDuffie County Superior Court last Thursday afternoon, Mr. Sanders told Superior Court Judge Roger Dunaway the state would seek the death penalty for Mr. Samuels.

The trial would be McDuffie County's first death penalty case in a quarter century, Mr. Sanders said. In November of 1981, Hill Rivers was convicted of killing three Dearing residents. He was later sentenced to death.

With Ms. Hefner's family sitting in the courtroom during Thursday's hearing, Judge Dunaway ran through procedural checklists and made sure that the defense team was qualified to try the case. One of the issues addressed by Mr. Samuels' attorney, Mike Garrett, involved pre-trial publicity.

"I think publicity is definitely a problem in this case," he told Judge Dunaway.

Mr. Samuels will be arraigned at 9 a.m. on May 26 in McDuffie County Superior Court. On March 6, 2004, Ms. Hefner's body was found in Folly Lake off Interstate 20. Mr. Samuels was arrested in connection with the murder two weeks later.

Web posted on Thursday, May 4, 2006

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