Friday, 24 June 2011

SBS: Pennsylvania: Lamont Cherry trial re-scheduled

Sheena Delazio

WILKES-BARRE – The retrial of a city man scheduled to be held later this month on homicide charges in the death of a 1-year-old girl will now begin in August, a Luzerne County judge said.

Lamont Cherry leaves the Luzerne County Courthouse after a deadlocked jury could not come up with a verdict in the homicide trial. S.John Wilkin/The Times Leader
Judge Tina Polachek Gartley, who originally scheduled a June 27 trial for Lamont Cherry, continued the trial at the request of Cherry’s attorneys, William Ruzzo and Christopher O’Donnell.
Ruzzo and O’Donnell said an expert they intend to call at the trial cannot appear during the week of June 27.
Polachek Gartley said Cherry will now stand trial on Aug. 22.
Cherry, 37, who is charged with the May 2009 death of his girlfriend’s 1-year-old daughter, Zalayia McCloe, originally stood trial on the charge in January.
After a two-week trial, including jury selection, a mistrial was declared due to a juror’s misconduct after the jury decided Cherry was not guilty of first-degree murder.
Juror Gretchen Black had conducted research after the jury had gone home for the day about retinal detachment – a complication of shaken baby syndrome McCloe allegedly suffered before her death.
An investigation was conducted and Black was not charged with any wrongdoing.
Cherry will now face lesser charges of third-degree murder and involuntary manslaughter.
Had Cherry been convicted of first-degree murder, he would have faced the death penalty or life in prison.
Polachek Gartley said Friday her biggest concern is publicity of the case because Black’s misconduct was widely reported by local media outlets.
“Jurors need to be asked questions specific to that,” Polachek Gartley said, adding that is her main concern followed by whether jurors have heard anything about the case.
Polachek Gartley said a pre-trial hearing on any outstanding motions will be held on Aug. 16. Attorneys have said the trial is expected to last four days.
Assistant District Attorneys Michael Vough and Maureen Collins are prosecuting the case.

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