Prospective jurors in a murder trial set to begin in McAlester this week have reported to Pittsburg County District Court to begin the jury selection process in the case.
Brenda Savage faces a first-degree murder trial in the January 2019 shooting death of 40-year-old Bart Jameson at a McAlester residence. Savage pleaded innocent to the charge during an initial court appearance.
Fifty-five prospective jurors in the jury pool were given an 11-page questionnaire which they were told to complete before they left the courtroom Monday. Pittsburg County Associate District Judge Tim Mills told jurors to return to the courtroom at 9 a.m. Tuesday so the selection process can continue.
Mills and the attorneys in the case plan to meet early Tuesday to discuss the questionnaire results before voir dire questioning of individual prospective jurors by the attorneys and Judge Mills begins. Opening statements in the trial will begin after the jury is selected, which was expected to be sometime Tuesday.
Five days have been set aside for the trial, although that could change once testimony gets underway.
Defense attorneys in the case also filed a renewed motion for discovery Monday, resulting in a Monday afternoon pretrial hearing in Mills’ courtroom.
Savage’s defense team of Blake Lynch and Brecken Wagner contended prosecutors had not handed over all the discovery material they sought. Discovery requires attorneys to make information and evidence they plan to use in legal proceedings available to the other side.
District 18 First Assistant District Attorney Adam Scharn and Assistant District Attorney Michon Hasting-Hughes were in court to represent the prosecution during the pretrial hearing.
Mills ruled on some of the issues in the renewed motion and indicated he will likely rule on some of the others once more information is available — which could depend on what happens once the trial begins.
During the hearing, Lynch objected to admitting some testimony from a prosecution witness who worked as a bartender at a bar where Jameson, Savage and others were reported at earlier in the evening on the night Jameson was shot. Lynch objected to the witness being allowed to offer expert testimony based on her experience as a bartender and also unspecified medical experience.
Lynch also said a portion of what the witness was expected to testify to amounted to speculation.
Mills may rule on the issue later after more is learned about the bartender’s purported medical background, which could occur without the jury present, if necessary.
In the renewed motion for discovery, Lynch contended the state had not turned over:
• An inventory of a vehicle by Officer Eli Hass. Lynch agreed there was an inventory report, “But not the actual inventory he can be seen filling out on his chest cam video.”
• An evidence log identifying a cell phone found behind a Ford Escape involved in the case and who it belonged to.
• Pictures that another officer “can be seen taking on his chest cam video.”
• “Any formal or informal orders to destroy the jail videos or the videos of other officers on the scene.” Lynch contended in the renewed motion for discovery that available videos show at least three officers on the scene for whom there are no videos.
Lynch cited another concern regarding the scope of testimony of Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation personnel. Lynch said if the intent is for their testimony to go beyond what is on specified pages in the OSBI manual, he wants to know about it.
Some issues were worked out in court.
Scharn said there were no law enforcement policies in place requiring every officer at the scene to indefinitely preserve, or not preserve, their videos. He said videos are automatically deleted following a certain period of time.
Prosecutors also agreed to make available to defense attorneys information regarding who owned the cell phone found behind the Ford Escape.
The court planned to seek more information regarding testimony by the OSBI personnel on the issue in question.
After the hearing ended, Mills and the prosecution planned to separately go over the juror questionnaires that were completed Monday. Lynch indicated the defense had already reviewed them.
The judge and attorneys on both sides planned to get together early Tuesday in regard to the initial information, with more questions set to be asked of potential jurors once voir dire begins.
Contact James Beaty at email@example.com