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Judge, Attorneys Consider Delay for Marshall County High School Shooting Trial

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The long-awaited trial for the Marshall County High School shooter will likely be delayed further than June of this year. Due to the limitations created by the worldwide COVID-19 pandemic, all parties involved are concerned about a number of issues, including putting together a jury.

During the court proceeding held via Skype Monday morning, 42nd Judicial Circuit Commonwealth’s Attorney Dennis Foust also expressed concern regarding the availability of witnesses and witness preparation for the trial. He said some of his witnesses are doctors at Vanderbilt in Nashville, and he’s been told by the medical center it could be another six or eight weeks, at minimum, before they’re available.


“I think both the defense counsel and I, one thing we are in agreement on at this point is that the June 1 trial date is going to be difficult, if not impossible,” Foust explained.


Tom Griffiths, the lead defense attorney representing Gabe Parker, expressed concern regarding calling in witnesses from out of state. He said three of the witnesses defense attorneys intend to call from across state lines will have to be compelled by court order to attend, and he’s not sure how that would work right now. 


Judge Jamie Jameson of the 42nd Judicial Circuit said that situation would require the court of the state in which the witnesses reside to order those individuals to attend the hearing in Kentucky, but he anticipates the request would be denied right now “due to the COVID-19 crisis.”


Jameson said he’s been in regular contact with the Kentucky Supreme Court regarding what they will be able to do, or not do, in person on June 1. He said so far the answer he’s gotten is, “they just don’t know.” He said he has requested an exception regarding jury moratorium and social distancing guidelines that would have to be granted by Chief Justice John Minton. He said he hasn’t received a response yet but anticipates getting one by the end of the week. 


Both parties are moving to continue the trial to a later date, but Jameson said he’s not sure if he’s in a position to grant or deny that request at this time. He said he will try to get a response from Minton regarding any exceptions about jury moratorium before making a ruling on the matter. He said Minton’s staff has advised they expect some form of social distancing requirements will still be in place come June 1. 


“It’s very disappointing to even consider continuing this matter for everyone involved, but it’s the issue that’s before the court due to uncontrollable circumstances and a decision will have to be made,” Jameson said. 


Jameson scheduled a review on April 28. 


Parker, now 18, allegedly opened fire on his classmates at Marshall County High School in Benton, Kentucky, on Jan. 23, 2018. More than a dozen students were injured and two 15-year-olds, Preston Cope and Bailey Holt, died as a result of their injuries. 


Because Parker is now over the age of 18, he is being housed at the Christian County Jail in Hopkinsville, where the trial is scheduled to take place. He was previously housed at the juvenile detention center in Paducah.

Rachel’s interest in journalism began early in life, reading newspapers while sitting in the laps of her grandparents. Those interactions ignited a thirst for language and stories, and she recalls getting caught more than once as a young girl hiding under the bed covers with a flashlight and book because she just couldn’t stop reading.
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