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Trials delayed

The trial for a Vandalia man charged with attempted murder more than 2½ years ago has again been delayed, this time for at at least a week.
The trial for a Mulberry Grove man charged with murder in January 2018 also has been rescheduled.
The bench trial for Gregory M. Hill, 50, was scheduled to get under way on June 17, with two days set aside for the trial.
During a teleconference on Tuesday, Associate Judge Kevin Parker, the trial judge, reset the trial for Tuesday, June 23-24, also ruling that, if necessary, it could be rescheduled for June 29-30, according to court records.
Hill was charged in August 2017 with aggravated domestic battery, a Class 2 felony punishable by up to seven years in prison, and attempted first-degree murder, a Class X felony carrying a maximum punishment of 30 years.
Information filed by the office of Fayette County State’s Attorney Joshua Morrison alleges that Hill, “with the intent to commit the offense of (attempted) first degree murder, performed a substantial step toward that commission in that he … did throw (a female) to the floor, and in doing so caused a spinal cord injury.”
In September of last year, Parker ruled that the alleged victim would not have to testify in open court due to the fact that she is living in a local nursing center.
In doing so, Parker ruled that a video deposition would take place of in-court testimony.
Then, in March, Parker granted a defense motion to not allow the prosecution to introduce the videotaped deposition of the alleged victim.
Morrison’s office is allowed to introduce the transcribed deposition of the alleged victim.
In arguing for not allowing the videotaped deposition, Hill’s attorney, Thomas Lacy, raised the issue of the person operating the camera for the deposition “being actively involved in the investigation and prosecution of the defendant.”
Lacy argued at the prosecution failed to comply with a Supreme Court rule that mandates certain information, such as who is recording the video and who all is present for the deposition, be recorded at the start of the deposition.
Morrison said not including that information was his mistake, and said case law states that it is “ruled to be harmless error.”
Lacy disagreed. “It’s serious.
“This court may not be the last to view this case, and we have to have a clean record,” Lacy said.
In January, Parker denied a motion by Lacy and co-counsel Ed Veltman asking for dismissal of the case in which they claimed that the deposition supports the defense claim that there was no intent to commit first-degree murder.
In supporting arguments made by Morrison, Parker said, “these arguments are more appropriate at the close of the state’s case or after all of the evidence has been presented.”
The jury trial for David Leroy Bright of Mulberry Grove had been scheduled to begin on May 18, but is now set to get under way on Aug. 17, with a pretrial hearing set for June 30.
Bright, 70, was charged in January 2018 with two counts of first-degree murder, with information filed by Morrison’s office alleging that Bright caused the death of James Skinner of rural Brownstown on Sept. 17, 2017, by striking him in the head with a sledgehammer.
The trial was delayed earlier, when Starnes asked for a psychiatric evaluation of his client to determine whether Bright was fit to stand trial.
On July 12, Fayette County Resident Circuit Judge Don Sheafor ruled that Bright is mentally fit to stand trial after a report on his evaluation by psychiatrist Dr. Terry Killian was filed with the court.
In his ruling, Sheafor said, “The state did prove by a preponderance of the evidence in this case that the defendant is fit to stand trial or plead.”


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