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Tuesday, May 08, 2012

Ind. Courts - "'Legal issue' halts murder trial"

Sophia Voravong reports today in a long story in the Lafayette Journal Courier - some quotes:

Wesley Coffey’s remark Friday afternoon in Tippecanoe Superior Court 1 about his friend, Clint Laxton, completing a polygraph for police as part of a homicide investigation was just one small mention made during roughly 30 minutes of detailed testimony.

But however brief, that statement was enough for Judge Randy Williams to declare a mistrial Monday morning in 32-year-old Edward C. Zaragoza’s trial on charges of murder, conspiracy to commit robbery and 11 other felonies.

Now the trial, which began with jury selection May 1, included three full days of testimony and was expected to last up to three weeks, must be rescheduled. Attorneys plan to meet with Williams on Wednesday morning to choose another date. * * *

Robert Little, one of Zaragoza’s court-appointed attorneys, confirmed Monday afternoon that it was due to a comment Coffey made about Laxton, a Lafayette man who admitted during testimony Friday morning that he and Zaragoza previously plotted to take cash and marijuana from Rogers, a marijuana dealer. * * *

Beyond bringing up the polygraph — polygraphs typically are not admissible in court because they’re not considered reliable and results can sway jurors — Coffey’s statement that Laxton passed it was wrong, according to Little and Meyers’ motion for a mistrial that was filed Monday. Laxton actually failed it, they wrote.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on May 8, 2012 11:53 AM
Posted to Ind. Trial Ct. Decisions