CINCINNATI (AP) — The murder retrial of a former University of Cincinnati police officer has been scheduled for May 25, and a judge said Monday she intends to keep the racially charged case in Cincinnati.
Hamilton County Common Pleas Judge Leslie Ghiz, assigned the case after the first trial judge recused herself following a Nov. 12 mistrial for a hung jury, set the next pretrial hearing in the Ray Tensing case for Jan. 23.
“We are anticipating that the trial is going to take place in Hamilton County,” Ghiz said. “It is the objective of this court to make sure that it does, and that we are able to seat a jury here and proceed here.”
Prosecutor Joe Deters has said he wants to move the new trial on murder and voluntary manslaughter charges to another county, away from intense local attention to the case of the 27-year-old white former officer who fatally shot black motorist Samuel DuBose, 43, during a July 2015 traffic stop.
Attorneys on both sides said they are obligated to try first to seat a jury locally. Tensing attorney Stewart Mathews has said he would lean against moving the trial, citing costs and logistical issues.
“If both sides do not agree (on moving the trial), then you have to try to seat a jury,” Mathews said after Monday’s hearing. “And only when you are unsuccessful in doing that does the change of venue come into play. At this point, both sides have not agreed to it, and the prosecutor’s never formally filed anything anyway.”
A South Carolina jury deadlocked Dec. 5 on the same charges against Michael Slager, a white former North Charleston officer. The prosecutor there also pledged to try Slager again, for the traffic-stop shooting death of black motorist Walter Scott.
The fatal shootings are among cases around the country that have raised attention to how police deal with blacks. But legal experts say the mistrials underscore the difficulties prosecutors face in police cases, with many jurors unwilling to second-guess officers’ split-second reactions.
In both trials, the former officers testified in their defenses and said they feared for their lives. Tensing said he believed he could be killed by DuBose’s car as he tried to drive away. Slager said Scott wrestled his stun gun away and pointed it at him in April 2015.