The jury had been picked but not sworn when the murder trial of Robyn Little Davis and Carol Noland "Sissy" Saltzman came to a halt last year when the prosecutor became ill.
Judge David Ritchie granted a continuance and defense attorneys have argued since then that the delay was unfair and prejudicial to the women, because it amounts to the state getting another chance to which defense attorney Glen Vamvoras says they are not entitled. "They got a trial run in November and now they're going to come back with having shored up some deficiencies that were apparent in November."
But Calcasieu District Attorney John DeRosier says defense attorneys often make that argument. "It is not unusual for defense lawyers to take a position that basically any action we take, particularly when it's out of the ordinary normal course of events, should result in charges being dismissed. That is not uncommon at all."
The judge granted a continuance but the Third Circuit Court of Appeal says it was really a recess-- because the judge had no authority to grant a continuance and that the trial should go an as soon as possible with the original jury if that doesn't prejudice either side. DeRosier said even if the state called it a continuance at the time it was a recess. "We sometimes use words in their generic sense, like continuance as opposed to recess, but we argued on appeal in our brief that this was a recess and perfectly legal to do under the law."
Vamvoras says he's never heard of such a recess, "We've been five months since the jury was sent home unsworn. That's the longest recess I've heard of."
Defense attorneys plan to file papers by the end of the week asking the State Supreme Court to review the case and put the trial set for April 23 on hold. Still, for now, both sides say they are preparing for this month.