Earles on July 11 continued the trial, evidently feeling he had to do so on the basis of a motion filed that day by Louis Gadot, III, Prince’s attorney for the penalty phase of his case.
Capital cases are tried in two phases. If the defendant is convicted in Phase 1, then Phase 2 is the jury’s consideration of life or death.
Earles ordered Gadot to produce for in-chambers inspection all the materials in the Prince case file.
Gadot, through an attorney he retained, appealed that order to the Third Circuit Court, saying “issues are in the case are complex and grave. Release of the file would result in irreparable harm to the capital defendant” and that it violates protections under the 4th, 5th, 6th and 14th Amendments to the U.S. Constitution.
The circuit court agreed, setting aside the order to provide the file. It denied a motion to stay the sanction hearing. That was held July 22 and Earles elected not to sanction.
Jury selection was under way when the defense filed its continuance motion, a motion evidently generated by an assertion of “late favorable evidence disclosure by the state.”
Details on the motion, and whatever evidence might be in question, are sealed.
A number of documents are in the sealed portion of the case file. They include photos taken at the crime scene, witness narratives, investigative reports, Prince’s written statement and a 404(b) motion.
That legal rule provides that evidence of other crimes, wrongs, or acts, although not admissible to prove character, may be admissible for some other purpose, such as proof of motive, opportunity, intent, preparation, plan, knowledge, identity, or absence of mistake or accident.
The terms “similar act” or “prior crime” are frequently used to describe this subject matter; though these terms are misleading. Although often used to admit criminal acts, by its own terms, Rule 404(b) is not limited to crimes; it embraces “wrongs” and “acts” as well.
And the other-act need not be “similar” to the charged offense. The other-act need not have occurred prior to the charged offense; evidence of a subsequent act may be admissible.
Sealing records and/or until trial is a option available to judges and is often done in an effort to prevent influence the potential jury pool one way or the other before trial.
A motion to change the venue for Prince’s trial remains before the court.
Also still pending is a motion by the defense for special instruction to the jury regarding “snitch” testimony.
Earles has denied a motion to bar “unreliable snitch testimony or to limit the number of snitch witnesses.”
A centerpiece of the state’s case is expected to be testimony by Michael Hayes, who Prince, while serving time for another case conviction, allegedly told details of his alleged killing of two Branch women.
Jackie Campbell and Angie Mott were murdered in January 2005.
Prince was arrested in 2007 after allegedly bragging to Hayes.
According to records, Hayes, doing eight years for ID theft and forgery convictions, asked for assistance from the prosecutor, Roger Hamilton, in getting parole in exchange for his testimony but Hamilton declined.