Hamilton County Judge Leslie Ghiz held what was the first preliminary hearing for the upcoming Ray Tensing retrial on Monday, Jan. 23, 2017, since the prosecution named its new team for the retrial. Monday’s hearing, a status hearing, is intended to ensure a smooth process for all leading up to the second trial date in May.
In Monday’s hearing in her office, Ghiz reviewed pretrial issues with the defense and the prosecutors who will represent the defendant, Ray Tensing, and the state, respectively, in the retrial set to begin May 25, 2017. In addition, Ghiz reminded attorneys on both sides that there is a gag order in place that prohibits the attorneys or parties of the case to speak to the media.
Ghiz explained her reasoning for the ongoing gag order:
“It’s not to keep people in the dark. It’s simply to make sure that we can seat a jury in Hamilton County. My job is not only to protect the integrity of the process, but it’s also to be certain that we can seat a jury here.”
Ghiz was assigned in November 2016 to preside over the retrial of former University of Cincinnati police officer Ray Tensing for the shooting death of unarmed motorist Samuel DuBose after three other judges, including the original trial judge, Hamilton County Judge Megan Shanahan, disqualified themselves. Ghiz received the assignment shortly after Tensing’s first trial on charges of murder and manslaughter resulted in a hung jury on November 12.
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Shanahan had issued gag orders midway through the original trial, something that Ghiz reinstated on December 14, citing “the unprecedented and extensive media coverage” the Tensing trial has received and made it clear that she intends to keep the trial in Hamilton County, writing “This protective order is intended to prevent media coverage of statements that might unfairly influence the potential jury pool and the outcome of the case.”
Although Hamilton County prosecutor Joe Deters, who with two associates represented the state during Ray Tensing’s first trial, had indicated that he would seek a change of venue for the second trial, he never followed through with a formal motion seeking that change. Tensing’s attorney, Stew, Mathews, has said he would not agree to a change of venue and the family of shooting victim, Samuel DuBose, had said they’d prefer to keep the hearing in Hamilton County but would defer to the prosecution’s decision.
Earlier in January, Joe Deters announced that he wouldn’t be personally retrying the Tensing case, citing both his need to focus on the resentencing trial for serial killer, Anthony Kirkland, also scheduled to take place in May 2017, and expressing confidence in the new sets of eyes veteran felony prosecutors Seth Tieger and Stacy DeGraffenreid will bring to the retrial.
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