By Joe Johnson
A former Madison County Sheriff’s deputy accused of killing a University of Georgia graduate student while in a jealous rage last year recently filed a motion that asks a judge to quash the seven-count grand jury indictment that charges him with murder and related crimes.
The motion, filed June 25 in Clarke County Superior Court, argues that the indictment against Winford Terrell “Trey” Adams III is not valid because when he fatally shot 26-year-old Benjamin Lloyd Cloer, he did so because he was concerned for the safety of his wife when he saw her in Cloer’s arms at the grad student's home on Old Jefferson River Road.
According to the motion, Adams and his wife had consented to being able to track each other's movements via a GPS app, and on the night of Nov. 10, 2019, when Adams tracked his wife to Cloer’s residence, the former deputy argues that he had previously been told by his wife that she was eating with a group of friends.
Because he was a sworn police officer at the time of the alleged murder, Adams was considered to be on duty 24 hours a day, and was in performance of his duty when he believed he was protecting his wife, according to the motion.
The motion argues that because Adams’ had acted as a public officer, he was entitled by law to have been provided by the district attorney a copy of the proposed indictment 15 days before it was presented to a grand jury.
Adams also was not afforded his right as a law enforcement officer to appear before the grand jury “to make such sworn statement as he or she shall desire at the conclusion of the presentation of the state’s evidence.” the motion states.
A hearing on the motion is scheduled for July 17 before Western Judicial Circuit Judge Lisa Lott.
In the indictment, Adams is charged with malice murder, felony murder, first-degree home invasion, family violence aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, and two counts of possession of a firearm during the commission of a crime.
Cloer, the victim, was a UGA student who was working toward a master’s degree in artificial intelligence. Police said he had been shot multiple times and he later died at the hospital.
Adams, 32, of Lord Fleming Road in Comer was off duty and not in uniform at the time of the shooting, police said. He was taken into custody at the scene.
In a call he made to 911, Adams may have undercut his claim that he acted in the performance of his duties, because he told a dispatcher that he shot Cloer because he caught his wife cheating on him with the victim.
However, Adams’ wife told a dispatcher that Cloer was “just my friend. This was a misunderstanding. My husband doesn’t understand he’s just my friend.”
Adams, who was immediately fired as a deputy, began working for the Madison County Sheriff’s Office in August 2018, and prior to that worked for the Statesboro Police Department.
He was indicted by a Clarke County grand jury on Feb. 4, and he subsequently pleaded not guilty to all charges.
Adams was being held without bail at the Clarke County Jail.