YSL trial: State files motion to sever 2 defendants with pregnant attorneys

Both women say they want to remain on the case
Nicole Fegan speaks with her client, Tenquarius Mender, in court.

Credit: Miguel Martinez

Credit: Miguel Martinez

Nicole Fegan speaks with her client, Tenquarius Mender, in court.

Fulton County prosecutors are seeking to sever two defendants from the upcoming Young Slime Life gang trial because their defense attorneys are pregnant.

But neither woman wants to have their clients tried separately, saying that being pregnant does not hinder their ability to represent the defendants in the high-profile case.

The motion filed by prosecutors Tuesday requests the severance of defendants Kahlieff Adams and Tenquarius Mender, saying the attorneys representing them have an “impending and imminent personal leave of absence” that would preclude them from representing their respective clients in the lengthy trial.

Attorney Nicole Fegan, who represents Mender, and Adams’ attorney, Teombre Calland, both want to remain on the case. Fegan also said she’s disappointed in the prosecution’s choice of words.

“I don’t think pregnancy should be treated as a disease or a disability,” she told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

“If Rihanna can do it, I’m sure that we can both adequately represent our clients,” Fegan said, referring to the star’s halftime performance at last weekend’s Super Bowl.

Kahlieff Adams and his attorney, Teombre Calland, wait during jury selection.

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Calland agreed, saying her pregnancy would not impact her ability to do her job.

The sweeping gang indictment was handed down last May, and both attorneys have been working on the case for the better part of a year. If the state’s motion is granted, it would bring the number of remaining defendants standing trial to 12, including Atlanta rapper Young Thug.

Twenty-eight defendants were charged in last year’s indictment. Eight took plea deals, and six others were severed because they either didn’t have attorneys or weren’t in police custody before the start of trial.

Both Mender and Adams have said they don’t want other attorneys representing them, according to the state’s motion. The trial is expected to last six to nine months.

“I think at this point, trying them separately would be expensive and potentially prejudicial because the jury selection process has already started,” Fegan said. “We’ve been on this case since May, and in May I wasn’t pregnant.”

She said the state’s motion makes it appear the district attorney’s office is unsympathetic to expectant mothers, especially women attorneys “who already face challenges in a male-dominated career.”

The state contends the severance of two defendants would have “negligible impact” on the proceedings.

Last year, Fegan sought to sever her client from the case. The state opposed that motion, which was ultimately denied. Mender later rejected a plea deal offered by the state.

The state is requesting the motion be heard at the earliest convenience to the court, which is in recess until Tuesday. Defense attorneys and prosecutors are reviewing juror questionnaires ahead of individual questioning.

A hearing has been scheduled to hear the motion on March 1 in front of Judge Ural Glanville.

Adams, who is serving a life sentence at Hays State Prison for a 2019 murder, was accused of handing Young Thug, whose real name is Jeffery Williams, a prescription painkiller in open court.

Calland filed a complaint last month alleging Fulton deputies used excessive force on her client by using a Taser after the alleged pill handoff. Adams faces additional charges in connection with the incident.

Adams already faced four charges in the sweeping indictment, including violating the state’s RICO act, attempted murder and two counts of participation in criminal street gang activity. Mender also faces four counts, including violation of the state’s RICO act, possession of a weapon by an incarcerated individual, possession of a telecommunication device by an incarcerated individual and participation in criminal street gang activity.