Judge: Prosecution must narrow list of possible witnesses

Thursday, October 5, 2006

The list of possible witnesses to be called in the trial of an accused killer of a Missouri State Highway Patrol trooper was ordered to be drastically reduced to keep proceedings from slowing.

Lance Shockley, 29, of Van Buren, Mo., was charged with first-degree murder in the March 20, 2005, shooting death of Sgt. Carl Graham Jr. The defendant is scheduled to stand trial in Cape Girardeau County on a change of venue Jan. 17 and if convicted could received the death penalty.

During a motions hearing before Circuit Judge William Syler at the Jackson Courthouse Wednesday, public defender Jan Zembles argued that while prosecutors provided the defense team with a list of more than 200 witnesses and thousands of pieces of evidence, they had not indicated, despite requests, which witnesses or evidence would be presented at trial.

"It does enormously impede our ability to prepare for this trial," Zembles said.

Assistant attorney general Kevin Zoellner, whose office was assisting Carter County Prosecuting Attorney Mike Ligons in the case, argued that prosecutors had "fully complied" with state law and that providing the defense with further information was more than they were entitled to.

But Syler disagreed, stating that not narrowing the lists would slow proceedings down.

"At some point you've got to put nine players on the field," he said. "Otherwise we'll have 200 dispositions in this case and the trial will be 10 years from now, and I don't want that."

He ordered prosecutors to present the defense with a list of witnesses and exhibits they planned to present at trial by next month.

A motion to allow Shockley to wear civilian clothing and be unshackled during any part of the trial where jurors may be present was granted. In court Wednesday, he was wearing orange jail clothing with handcuffs and ankle shackles.

A metal detector was set up outside the courtroom Wednesday; spectators were screened before entering.

Syler denied defense motions to allow video cameras in the courtroom during jury selection and to restrict highway patrol witnesses and spectators from wearing their uniform, which defense attorneys said would jeopardize Shockley's right to a fair trial.

A state motion to preclude any testimony for an alibi for the defendant was granted, meaning testimony that places Shockley somewhere else during the time of the shooting could not be used, according to Ligons.

Shockley was next scheduled to appear in court Nov. 10 to take up any further motions.

Ligons said the defense attorneys indicated they would file a motion at that time to push back to the Jan. 17 trial date.


335-6611, extension 127

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