Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Dirksmeyer oddity

The defense has rested in the case Kevin Jones, accused of killing beauty queen Nona Dirksmeyer. The jury has quit its' deliberations for the night. The Russellville Courier has extensive coverage, but here is the kicker.

After lunch, Special Judge John Patterson issued jury instructions. The jury can only vote to acquit or convict Jones of first-degree murder; no lesser charges may be considered. Both sides presented their closing arguments and the jury retired to deliberate at about 4 p.m.

No lesser included charges? (Second-degree? Manslaughter?)

This was a big deal in the murder trial which acquitted Little Rock car dealer Herbert Jones of homicide charges some years ago. The Arkansas Supreme Court ruled that Judge John Plegge made a mistake by not giving the jury options other than first degree murder.

These jury instructions make it more likely that Jones will walk. Please understand that there are other facts which could contribute to the same result. There is a question as to whether the prosecution has met its' burden of proof.

A most interesting case.

The defense gets to decide if a lesser charge is offered.
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