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Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Arraignment delayed for dad accused in hot car death


COBB COUNTY, Ga. — Channel 2 Action News has learned court officials have postponed the arraignment of Ross Harris.

The man accused of murdering his toddler son by leaving him in a hot car for seven hours was expected in a Cobb County courtroom Thursday.

Grand jurors indicted Harris on murder and multiple other felonies for the death of his son in early September.

Cobb County District Attorney Vic Reynolds said that indictment started the clock on another big decision.

"Whether or not the state seeks the death penalty in this case will be made on or before that arraignment date in the next two or three weeks," Reynolds said.

But the arraignment, set for Thursday, has now been postponed until sometime in October.

Defense attorney Phil Holloway told Channel 2's Ross Cavitt the new arraignment date is important in the timeline.

"There’s a lot of things that need to happen right after an arraignment, for example, the defense has only 10 days to file any pre-trial motions they need to file," Holloway said.

Holloway, who's been following the Harris case closely, said the delay might give the DA more time to decide on the death penalty, but it’s perhaps a bigger advantage to Harris' attorney, Maddox Kilgore, who right now has his hands full.

"The attorney for Mr. Harris is currently conducting another trial, another murder trial. He's going to need some downtime to prepare for an arraignment and to get his motions ready and things like that so he doesn't miss any deadlines," Holloway said.

Source: wsbtv
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Hernandez Cousin To Plead Guilty To Contempt


BOSTON — A cousin of former New England Patriots player Aaron Hernandez is expected to plead guilty to a contempt charge for refusing to testify before the grand jury that indicted Hernandez in the 2012 killings of two Boston men.

A change-of-plea and sentencing hearing is scheduled for Tanya Singleton in Suffolk Superior Court on Tuesday.

Singleton pleaded guilty to a separate contempt charge last month in Bristol County for refusing to testify before the grand jury that indicted Hernandez in a third killing – the 2013 shooting of semi-professional football player Odin Lloyd.

Singleton, of Bristol, Connecticut, has been battling a recurrence of breast cancer.

Her lawyer, E. Peter Parker, said in a sentencing memo that her cancer is incurable. He argues that she cannot receive adequate medical treatment if she is sent to jail.

“Ms. Singleton’s best chance to maximize the time she has left with some semblance of quality of life would be to maintain a complex and increasingly aggressive treatment regimen implemented by the Connecticut physician who has been treating her since her original cancer diagnosis three years ago,” Parker wrote.

Parker is asking a judge to spare her jail time and instead sentence her to two years of probation with a year of home confinement, the same sentence she received in Bristol County.

Parker said Singleton, who is 17 years older than Hernandez, “loves him as if he were her own son.” He said she “chose family” when she was subpoenaed to testify before the grand jury investigating her cousin.

Hernandez has pleaded not guilty to murder in the deaths of Daniel de Abreu and Safiro Furtado after one of the men accidentally spilled a drink on him at a Boston nightclub. He has also pleaded not guilty to murder in Lloyd’s killing.

Source: wbur
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Monday, September 22, 2014

Courtroom Cameras Sought In Aurora Theater Shooting Trial


CENTENNIAL, Colo. (AP/CBS4) – Prosecutors and defense lawyers in the Colorado theater shootings case urged the judge on Monday to bar cameras from the courtroom during the trial, saying witnesses could be harassed and threatened because of the coverage.

They also argued that witnesses’ images could be exploited on the Internet forever.

Attorneys for news organizations responded that no evidence shows that courtroom cameras would make the public scrutiny of witnesses any more intense than it will be anyway because of strong interest in the case.

Arapahoe County District Judge Carlos A. Samour Jr. said he would rule next week.

“It wouldn’t bother me if they showed it, but it wouldn't bother me if they didn't either,” shooting victim Marcus Weaver said. “But at the same time I think the people of this country deserve to see what’s going on with the trial and see it for themselves.”

“The issue isn't just the media’s right to access and to be able to have cameras in there, but it’s also the public’s right,” CBS4 Legal Analyst Karen Steinhauser said. “And so those people who are in favor of cameras feel that the public can more accurately see what’s going on, hear what’s going, on when they are allowed to look at witness’ credibility, listen to the testimony themselves, as opposed to relying on wither the reporter, who is giving their view of what happened, or other people like me who also try to interpret what’s gone on in a courtroom.”

James Holmes is scheduled to go on trial in December on charges of killing 12 people and injuring 70 in the July 2012 attack at a Denver-area theater.

He pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity to multiple charges of murder and attempted murder.

Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty.

Holmes appeared in court Monday wearing glasses with rust-colored frames and oval lenses. He had never before worn glasses in court.

Media organizations, including The Associated Press, have asked to place one video camera and a still photographer in the courtroom during the trial. They cited broad interest in the crime itself and in the intertwined issues of mental health, gun control and mass killings.

They also argued that there had been no mistrials or problems in previous Colorado trials in which cameras were present.

Defense attorney Kristen Nelson countered that this would be the first time cameras would be present in a Colorado death penalty trial, and that the risk of making witnesses wary about testifying was too great.

“It’s only going to make matters worse,” she said.

Samour said he worries that witnesses might be underestimating how much media attention they will face even if he does not allow courtroom cameras.

“Either way, there’s going to be a ton of coverage,” he said.

Source: CBS Denver
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Jury Selection Underway in Dunn Retrial


About two dozen people have been cleared to continue on to the next day of jury selection in the second trial of Michael Dunn.

Jury selection began around 10 a.m. Monday in the case that has garnered publicity across the country.

Dunn is accused of killing 17-year-old Jordan Davis during a confrontation over loud music at a Southside Gate gas station in November 2012. In February a jury deadlocked on whether to convict him of murder.

By Monday afternoon, the judge dismissed 29 potential jurors from the pool of 100, while another 29 people will continue in the selection process. Forty-two other potential jurors have been flagged for individual questioning to determine if they will remain in the pool or not.

The judge will bring in another 40 new jurors for questioning Tuesday morning.

Earlier this month, Healey granted a motion to sequester members of the jury. Those selected to continue on as potential jurors Monday were taken to a hotel directly after being dismissed by Healey with stern instruction not to watch, read or discuss anything related to the case.

“Tonight is the night to read a book,” he said.

Dunn’s Attorney Waffa Hanania has been pushing for a change of venue, arguing that the widespread attention the case has received has jeopardized Dunn’s ability to get a fair trial.

Before jurors even arrived, there were several dozen demonstrators waiting outside the courthouse with the family of Jordan Davis. Among them was the mother of Trayvon Martin Sabryna Fulton as well as the families of Emmitt Till and Oscar Grant, a 22-year-old Oakland man fatally shot by police at a transit station.

Some supporters said they also came as far as Ferguson, Missouri where another unarmed teen Michael Brown was shot dead last month.

Hanania raised concerns over the large number of  Davis supporters outside the courthouse and their impact on potential jurors. However, Healey said the court would have to wait and see during the selection if it had any effect on jurors.

“I can control what goes on in the courtroom, but I can't consider what goes on outside the court,” he said.

A new pool of jurors will return to court 9:30 a.m. Tuesday.

Healey said he expects the trial to go about the next two weeks.

Source: wjct News
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