Pre-trial evidence likely to be kept secret
Judge Hathaway discloses husband is a cop
Owens’ sentencing rescheduled again to Dec. 2 as Aiyana Jones’ father Charles awaits preliminary exam Nov. 18.
By Diane Bukowski
Oct. 30, 2011
Detroit – It appears likely that a dark cloak of secrecy will surround the criminal trials of Detroit police officer Joseph Weekley, who shot 7-year-old Aiyana Stanley-Jones to death on May 16, 2010, and A&E photographer Allison Howard.
Weekley is charged with involuntary manslaughter and reckless discharge of a firearm, while Howard faces perjury and obstruction of justice charges whichallege that she lied about showing the A&E film of the raid to a “third party.”
Wayne County Circuit Court Judge Cynthia Gray Hathaway announced that the trials are set to begin April 30, 2012, nearly two years after the child’s death, during a surprise “pre-trial hearing” for Weekly and Howard Oct. 28. The final conference will take place March 2, with all pre-trial motions due by Mar. 31.
Wayne County Circuit Court Chief Judge Virgil Smith will hear a motion for a “protective order” in the case Nov. 11 at 9 a.m., related to discovery evidence. The motion was brought by Howard’s attorney Robert Harrison and has been reviewed by both Weekley’s attorney Steve Fishman and Wayne County Assistant Prosecutor Robert Moran, according to their statements Oct. 28.
There are claims that the evidence must be kept under seal prior to trial because a mysterious one-man grand jury composed of Judge Timothy Kenny issued the indictments under obscure Michigan statutes.
In response to questions directed to Worthy’s office regarding the grand jury, Kenny told VOD in an earlier email, “Since grand jury work is, by statute, a secret matter your questions cannot be answered.”
Wayne County Circuit Court Judge Daphne Means Curtis earlier refused to issue a blanket gag order in the civil case against Weekly brought by Aiyana’s parents Charles Jones and Dominika Stanley. She ruled that only the depositions of Weekly and Jones, who both face criminal charges, will be kept under seal and that the civil trial will proceed despite the pendency of the criminal case.
The diminutive Weekley appeared at the Oct. 28 hearing, while Howard, who lives in New York, was not present. Her indictment states that she showed or gave the A&E videotape of the police raid on the Jones home to a “third party” and lied about it on May 21, 2010 to the grand jury.
The question regarding the grand jury is whether it was already constituted less than one week after Aiyana’s killing. Harrison said he could not disclose the dates involved because grand jury proceedings are “secret.”
Fishman said, “My client is holding up as well as can be expected when he hasn’t done anything wrong and yet is charged with manslaughter.”
He called the grand jury proceeding “odd,” and said that the state legislature should re-fashion Michigan law to conform to federal law on grand juries, so that proceedings before them would not be so “secretive.”
He said, “It’s a good question,” when asked the date of the grand jury proceedings. Under Michigan statutes, witnesses summoned to testify before state grand juries are allowed to have legal representation and to have their attorneys present when they are questioned; however witnesses and attorneys are not allowed to disclose information about the proceedings.
Grand jury proceedings rule out the holding of preliminary exams in front of a 36th District Court Judge to determine if there is “probable cause” to proceed with the charges. Fishman said it is disadvantageous to his client not to have that opportunity.
Charles Jones is scheduled for a preliminary exam in 36th District Court on Nov. 18 on multiple charges of first-degree murder and felony firearms related to the killing of Je’rean Blake, 17, two days before Aiyana was killed.
Chauncey Owens has pled guilty to second-degree murder charges for shooting Blake, with an alleged plea agreement that he will “tell the truth” about who gave him the gun. The major media has jumped to the conclusion that it was Charles Jones, although Owens’ court file contains no such admission.
Owens’ sentencing has been postponed for the third time, from Oct. 31 to Dec. 2, indicating there may be a problem eliciting the testimony the prosecution desires from him.
Hathaway spent most of the Oct. 28 hearing disclosing that she is married to a police officer, a fact which VOD exposed (click on http://voiceofdetroit.net/2011/10/21/worthy-goes-after-aiyana-jones%e2%80%99-dad-with-a-vengeance-killer-cops-weekly-and-taylor-get-kid-gloves/).
“I am married to a police officer,” Hathaway said. “In all cases involving the police, I make that disclosure to all parties on the record. Only recently was I ever asked to be recused because of this. Otherwise I have presided over numerous cases involving police officers. I feel that I am able to decide in a far and impartial manner. I don’t let my personal relationships affect my decisions in court because of this.”
Hathaway asked whether either the prosecution or defense attorneys had a problem with her hearing the case. Wayne County Assistant Prosecutor Robert Moran said he would decide on the matter later, while Fishman and Harrison said they had “no problem.”
“I know your reputation, and I would be delighted to have you hear the case,” Harrison said, while Fishman joked that his wife is a retired probation officer but that doesn’t affect his handling of court matters.