Judge Griffen denies defense motions in Hastings case | Arkansas Blog

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Judge Griffen denies defense motions in Hastings case

Posted By on Wed, Aug 28, 2013 at 4:24 PM

Circuit Judge Wendell Griffen issued a 12-page order today denying a round of defense motions on evidence in the coming retrial of former Little Rock patrol office Josh Hastings on a manslaughter charge.

He denied requests to allow:

* Mention of the past arrest record of Bobby Moore, 15, who was killed by Hastings as he tried to drive away from an apartment complex parking lot. Hastings contended he fired in self-defense. Prosecution experts say the evidence didn't bear out Hastings' version of events. The judge said Moore's carjacking arrest wasn't relevant.

* Use of mental health and gang affiliations of Moore's companions that night. That information isn't relevant to whether Hastings recklessly caused Moore's death, the judge said.

* He denied a request for the defense to argue that the three youths didn't want to be caught.  But the judge said there was no evidence that the two accomplices had tried to flee until Moore had been shot. The trial is not about what the three youths did before Moore was killed. "It is about nothing but whether defendant recklessly caused Moore's death," he said. The defense was instructed to make no mention of their mental state. But they can be questioned about their juvenile probation status as a means of showing they might be likely to give testimony helpful to the police investigation. 

* The judge reiterated that, as a matter of law, Hastings could not use self-defense as a defense to a manslaughter charge. The judge will prepare a jury instruction on that point. He also instructed the defense to provide information about whether it will call an expert witness to counter the prosecution's and to provide contact information.

* As he'd indicated previously, the judge held to his plan to handle jury questioning himself, though he will pose questions given to him by both sides. He said he wanted to be sure no juror was dismissed for discriminatory reasons. He said the argument that the defense was somehow being denied the right to pose questions to potential jurors was "baseless."

He said, too, that his extra-judicial writings and comments about "cultural competence," or racial sensitivity, "do not violate the defendant's rights" and were consistent with U.S. Supreme Court rulings.

The judge gave lawyers until Sept. 5 to submit questions for jurors under seal.

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