Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Slip Lets Trial of Officer Be Moved Jury to Ponder Police Conduct

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Slip Lets Trial of Officer Be Moved Jury to Ponder Police Conduct

Article excerpt

A prosecutor's error in failing to file a motion means that St. Louis residents won't be on the jury that will decide if a St. Louis police officer criminally beat a retarded man last April.

"I'm mortified," St. Louis Circuit Attorney Dee Joyce-Hayes said Thursday (Three Star: referring to the error.)

"We made a terrible mistake. We messed up."

Circuit Judge Michael B. Calvin granted Sgt. Thomas Moran a change of venue for his trial after his attorney, C. John Pleban, pointed out Thursday that the circuit attorney's office had missed the 10-day deadline to oppose the venue change in writing.

Calvin said he had no choice but to grant Pleban's motion. "It's a matter of law, and (Pleban) had the Supreme Court on his side," Calvin said.

The change of venue means that either Moran will be tried elsewhere in the state, or a jury from another part of the state will be brought to St. Louis for the trial.

"We were ardently opposed" to the change of venue, Joyce-Hayes added. "Now I'm embarrassed. I have a red face."

Doug Pribble, the assistant circuit attorney handling the Moran case, was unaware he had to file a written motion within 10 days of Pleban's, Joyce-Hayes explained.

"He presumably misread something. He thought he could argue his opposition to the motion orally on Thursday before the judge."

Pribble has been a prosecutor for Joyce-Hayes since 1994. "He's one of our most super-prepared lawyers, but people make mistakes, and he made one."

Moran, 44, is charged with second-degree assault, a felony that carries a maximum prison term of seven years. He also is charged with two misdemeanors - third-degree assault and conspiracy to hinder prosecution - that carry a one-year maximum prison sentence each.

Moran is charged with beating Gregory Bell on April 14 at Bell's home in the 3400 block of Oregon Avenue.

Police have said they mistook Bell - who relatives say has the mental capacity of a 7-year-old - for a burglar because he could not communicate with them and started to fight them when they tried to handcuff him. …

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