Again. Keyword: Layman.
This is just what I typed out from my notes this morning. I haven't really proofed it yet but wanted to get this out as I have had emails and calls asking how things went. Here is my unproofed, typed from scribbled notes, layman's interpretation of the pre-trial hearing this morning:
First thing I want to comment on is that Matt brought the girls to this hearing. Paraded them in front of news cameras. They were in the courtroom for a while and then they sat outside during the actual hearing. The "run to hug after Dad exited the courtroom" caught on video for sure. Most parents that truly love their children and want to protect them, shield them from being a public spectacle. Not Matt. He parades them like trophies soley for sympathy and pity. Is this him trying to show the world he's a great father? Little late for that. The people of McLennan County (and potential jurors) see right through that charade. Shameful.
Motion to Request Reveal Agreement GRANTED
Defendant wants to know what the agreement between the State and Vannessa entails. Crawford said he will make that known some time prior to trial. Didn't say when. Judge granted to this extent that Crawford said. It's left rather open and in the State's discretion and timing.
Motion to Quash Substance of Indictment DENIED
Danford went on about the "means unknown" part in the Indictment. Crawford pointed out that the State is allowed to plead "means unknown" or "alternative means" or "by any means known" or "by any means unknown." Pointed out that McDuff was tried, convicted and executed under such Indictment and trial wording.
Motion to Reveal Witness List GRANTED
It's been public record for a while now anyway. Gray pointed out that the State can call witnesses that are not on the subpoena list and he wants full list. Crawford says the subpoena list is the full list, including experts, to date. If they get more in the future, he will make known to the Defense.
Motion for Voir Dire of Experts GRANTED
Shafer said that the expert list was made known a month ago. Gray says the State claims to have an open file stance but that it seems to be more like 90% open. Crawford agreed. Judge was fine with that, it seemed.
Motion for Recovery of Expenses GRANTED
Gray and Danford said they need more money for their investigator to look into all those witnesses. Gray pointed out that they have nto asked the Court for money for experts, that they have none they intend to call. They just want more investigative money. Judge agreed to $1,500. Fine by me.
Motion for Discovery of Experts AGREED UPON
Defense claims they have no experts but if they come up with one/some, Gray says he'll make that known. Shafer pointed out that experts are supposed to be made public 20 days prior to trial. Gray says they just don't have any right now. But if/when he does, he'll let them know. State says most likely they'll actually call 2-3 of their experts.
Motion for Gray to withdraw as counsel DENIED
I'm confused on this one. I *thought* he said (through mumbling) that is was a scheduling conflict. He wasn't sure he'd be able to finish the trial if he started it. Something about it being in his (Gray's) best interest to withdraw but if Court says for him to stay on, he'll do so. But Channel 25 reports something altogether different. They may have talked more about it with him or the Judge or heard him better than I did. They say, "One of Baker's attorney's, Guy James Gray, asked to be removed from the case because of 'serious and material breach of conduct' - this was denied this morning." Will find out more. KWTX's words included the phrase "serious and material breach of confidence." Judge asked Matt Baker if he wanted Gray to stay on, he said yes. So Gray is still on for now.
Gray said he wanted to renew Ellison's request for the Grand Jury testimony of Vanessa Bulls to be made known to them. He said they had a "particularized need" to have that. Crawford so eloquently pointed out that the Texas Rules have done away with the "particularized need" aspect. Gray admitted with an awkward chuckle that sometimes the Texas Rules get away from him in changing so fast. Crawford pointed out that the Texas Rules allows Defendants to see production of witnesses in criminal cases AFTER the witness has testified. I am supposing that means after he/she testifies at the actual trial. Gray told the Judge it was up to the Court's discretion for him to allow them to see it before trial to aid the efficiency of the trial....not cause delays. He said it was a matter of "pure d fairness.'" Judge, "DENIED." He said he'd keep an open mind. Trial is 2 weeks away. I think he'd give it to them by now if he had any intentions to. Some of the best news of the day.
Another VERY interesting thing brought up by Gray was that the DNA evidence taken on the suicide note and bottle of pills DID NOT exclude Vanessa Bull's having touched it. Oh, really?! They tried to complain that Vanessa changed her story from the first police report where she didn't imply guilt on her or Matt's part at all. Then another interview later where she still denied it. And then on the Grand Jury she changed her statement. Well, duh. Fear and testimonial immunity can open up a person's ability to tell the truth!
Gray wanted to renew Ellison's request that no extraneous extra offenses be brought up. Judge said that is routine and he'll be sure and make that known.
Some minor changes in trial dates. They will do jury voir dire and motions in limine Monday afternoon, the 11th. Trial to start the morning of the 12th.
There are approximately 70 people on the potential jury panel. Judge gave following instructions to Defense attorneys (since they had not been in trial in Judge Strother's court before) regarding voir dire of potential jurors. NO comparison on standards of proof on civil vs criminal cases. NO setting up of artificial premises and causing controversy over it for either side.
Crawford reminded Judge to enforce and remind Defense that the gag order was still in effect for involved parties. The Judge thanked him for the reminder. Judge said Danford was quoted saying something about the nature of the State's case in the newspaper and NOT to do that. Danford apologized.