A man on trial for first degree murder charges in Morgan County court won’t be able to proceed next week as planned.
21 year old Dustin A. Finlaw argued in Morgan County Court on his own behalf that State’s Attorney Gray Noll had sabotaged his defense by providing a list of 100 names that may potentially be called to the stand to testify at the upcoming trial.
Noll says he may potentially whittle down the list of potential witnesses based upon Finlaw’s evidence discovery and witness list which he turned over to Noll at the conclusion of the hearing yesterday afternoon: “Whenever there is any sort of felony case, especially when it’s a murder case, the State has disclose everybody who might take the stand in any sort of case. The reason for that is twofold. One: so the defendant is aware who might testify and Two: when this list of potential witnesses is read to the potential jurors, they are asked some specific questions about whether or not they may know the witnesses that may testify or if they have any sort of relationship with the witnesses that may testify. Their answers effect the ability to serve on the jury obviously. Often times, the State, the Prosecution, in this case myself, list witnesses that potentially could testify but are not necessarily likely to testify. As I informed the court and Mr. Finlaw, we will attempt to pare [the list] down as much as we can, but a lot of it depends upon how the evidence is coming out at trial whether or not we would call certain witnesses, etc. We always try to over-include individuals on witness lists out of an abundance of caution.”
Finlaw said he was unprepared to move forward next week because the list contained too many names and was not specific. At one point during proceedings, he called the list “ridiculous” and “unacceptable” saying he wished to know a specific list of names and be provided an outline of their actual testimony so he could finalize his opening statements to his case. Judge Jack Davis III reminded Finlaw of his rights and that the burden of proof in any case lies solely on the prosecution, and in doing so, they must provide the jury why without a shadow of a doubt the crime may have allegedly been committed. Judge Davis then instructed the State to provide Mr. Finlaw with information on the jury selection process and instructions by Friday, September 17th.
Judge Davis then vacated the Tuesday, September 14th jury call. Based upon the witness list, Finlaw told the court he would be able to proceed in October, but Noll and Judge Davis disagreed based upon the time needed to issue subpoenas for witnesses and the time required to set a jury. A status hearing has been set in the case for Thursday, September 30th, with a final pre-trial hearing with all motions in limine due by October 27th. The jury trial has now been moved out to November 16th beginning at 10AM.