Overview of the Early Days in the Ray Tensing Retrial

It has been slow going in the early days of the Ray Tensing retrial in Hamilton County, Ohio, where the third day of voir dire concluded on Tuesday, June 6, 2017, and a jury of nine white and three black people were finally seated on Wednesday, June 7, 2017 Tensing, a former University of Cincinnati police officer, faces his second trial in the shooting death of motorist Sam DuBose after the first trial resulted in a hung jury.

The voir dire, or questioning of potential jurors by both the prosecution and defense, required three days of careful questioning in this retrial, where in the first trial, voir dire was accomplished in one day.

Jurors will be weighing evidence and testimony to help them determine if, beyond a reasonable doubt, Hamilton County prosecutors will be able to prove Ray Tensing’s guilt on the charge of murder or that of voluntary manslaughter for what began as a routine traffic stop in July 2015 that escalated when Samuel DuBose, driver of the car, slowly began to move his car away from Tensing, who fired at DuBose due to the officer’s stated fear that his life was in danger.

Judge Leslie Ghiz, who is in the unenviable position of overseeing Tensing’s retrial amid the vast publicity the case has garnered not only in Cincinnati but throughout the country, continues to try maintain courtroom decorum and protect potential jurors from having their identities become public through gag orders on both the prosecution and defense and restrictions on media reporting of the trial and refusal to release the multi-page questionnaire prospective jurors were required to complete.

Ghiz is currently facing her own hearing in an appeals court where several media outlets are seeking that court’s requirement that Ghiz make the juror questionnaires publicly available now instead of at the end of the trial as Ghiz has said she will do. The media outlets have also asked the appeals court to require Ghiz to drop some of the restrictions she has placed on media coverage of the Tensing retrial.

Previous to the direct questioning of prospective jurors, Ghiz ruled on the defense motion to exclude from evidence the t-shirt Tensing had been wearing underneath his uniform on the day of the DuBose shooting, a shirt that included an emblem of the Confederate flag. Ghiz ruled that unlike in the first trial, Tensing’s t-shirt would not be allowed in the retrial, saying it would be prejudicial against the defendant.

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