Rockdale County public defender Thomas Owen Humphries, who is representing Jas, told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, "I've got my work cut out for me."
The girls are being held in youth detention centers in two different counties without bond to "keep them from comparing notes," said Humprhies.
The girls had a history of conflict with their mother, according to Whitehead's friend and colleague of 15 years. Their father lived in Jamaica and was not a presence in their lives.
"It took its toll on Nikki," said Sims. "She was a stranger to no one, real sweet. She was a very loving person and not a confrontational person. Any time there was a problem, she would try to bring about a resolution and didn't even hold a grudge. She was always trying to reach across the board to reconcile."
"She was always talking about problems with the girls acting out," said Sims. "They were not wild all the time. They were real amenable girls, involved in ballet, playing instruments and in the performing arts. She had them involved. But they began to rebel and tried to jump on her and got away. The police apprehended the girls and took them to juvenile."
But in 2008, Whitehead had a confrontation with the twins. "The girls wanted to go somewhere and she said they couldn't go, and they tried to jump her," said Sims. "And it wasn't the first attempt."
Whitehead called the police. "In spite of that, Nikki still loved those girls," she said.
The girls ended up in juvenile court and Whitehead's grandmother, who was more lax about discipline, was given primary custody.
"They liked being with her because they were able to do what they wanted to do," said Sims. "At first, they weren't violent, you would have thought they were typical teenagers. But after they were taken out of the home, the case turned. They were unruly began to tell lies."
Friends reported that the girls stole money from their family and their great-grandmother, who even had a dead-bolt on her bedroom door.
Over the course of the last year Whitehead had "tried back and forth with the court and with her whole heart" to get her daughters back, but to no avail.
Just a week before the murder, a judge gave Whitehead back custody of her daughters and she pledged to make a clean start. But more defiance ensued at the salon and in their home -- over respecting others, sitting down for meals and even going to school.
Sims said Whitehead suspected the defiant girls were up to something. "She was afraid of them, but I don't think she knew they would kill her."