Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Trial Starts despite Late Disclosure of Evidence; Judge in Attempted Murder Case Said Prosecutors' Mistake Was an Unintentional Oversight

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Trial Starts despite Late Disclosure of Evidence; Judge in Attempted Murder Case Said Prosecutors' Mistake Was an Unintentional Oversight

Article excerpt

Byline: Larry Hannan

A Jacksonville judge declined to delay the attempted murder trial of a man accused of shooting a Navy sailor over concerns that a videotaped witness interview wasn't handed over to the defense until last week.

Circuit Judge Mark Borello refused to indefinitely delay the trial of Courtney James Phillips, 24, while defense attorneys sought more information on the testimony of this witness. Jury selection in the case began Monday minutes after the judge refused the defense request to delay the trial.

Borello also refused to sanction prosecutors for failing to turn over information the defense is supposed to have, finding that the mistake made by prosecutors was an accident and not intentional.

"This is a natural and all too common byproduct of allowing cases to languish," Borello said. "Mr. Phillips has been waiting three years for his trial, the victim has been waiting three years for this trial."

Phillips was arrested in 2012 and charged with the October shooting of Good Samaritan Brett Parks in the Colony of Deerwood parking lot on Skinner Lake Drive near the St. Johns Town Center. Parks survived, but complications from his surgery led to his right leg being amputated and the removal of one of his kidneys.

Defense attorneys said they requested videotapes of several people interviewed by Sheriff's Office detectives 27 months ago and were told those interviews were not recorded. Last week prosecutors informed defense attorneys that the interviews with three people - Freddie Goodloe, Harvey Freeman and Darrold Williams - were recorded and had just been discovered.

Defense attorneys said comments made by Williams exonerated their client because he said Phillips wasn't in the parking lot when the shooting occurred. Prosecutors dispute this.

Assistant Public Defender Sandra Young sought to delay the trial, saying she needed more time to look into what Williams said. Prosecutors opposed delaying the case and pointed out that Young had listed Williams as a witness for the defense and therefore should have known what he said. …

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