The Nathan LeForce trial entered Day Seven with the sentencing phase on the two other felonies in the case. The jury was out less than an hour. The jury recommended 30-years on the Larceny of a Motor Vehicle after two former felony convictions. On the charge of Armed Robbery in the First Degree after previous conviction, the jury recommended 37-years in prison.
The afternoon session was a little more intriguing as the mitigation testimony started right after the lunchtime break. The prosecution started out with two former Perry police officers that had interactions with LeForce and not in a good way.
A former Department of Human Services (DHS) worker was then brought to the stand at about 2:25 p.m. and when court dismissed for the day at after 5 p.m. she was still on the stand. The testimony had barely started, and the jury was taken out of the courtroom for a discussion outside their presence at 2:38 p.m. A brief break and the court started again at 3:06 p.m. only to be recessed at 3:13 p.m. to review notes the witness had brought to court with her that no one had seen. Corley called the court back to order at 3:28 p.m. still not in the presence of the jury and the lead defense attorney, Gretchen Moseley made her first motion for a mistrial for prosecution misconduct, violation of the Brady law and sponsoring false testimony. A lively discussion ensued, and all the motions were overruled.
The jury was brought back in at 3:45 p.m. to hear more testimony from the caseworker. After several exchanges over the notes and reports the jury was dismissed for the day at 4:15 p.m.
That was not the end of the day for the lawyers though, as the courtroom heated up with another mistrial request and a long argument and more questioning of the witness as to the notes versus reports. At issue was that the witness took notes off DHS reports on a computer at DHS that may not have been made available to the defense team. Also, at issue was the discussion over court notes versus DHS notes and why they are different and not in the same file.
Logan County District Attorney Laura Thomas was visibly upset by the various accusations by Moseley, and when Moseley announced she was going to file a bar complaint against Thomas, things escalated.
Thomas told the court that the defense was grandstanding so that they could get an appeal for ineffective counsel and that Moseley told the prosecutors that they would take life without parole on one of the breaks. Thomas was also upset because some of the witnesses that the defense put on in Stage one should have been mitigation witnesses and that has now led the case down the current path.
Caught in the middle of all of this was Judge Phillip Corley who again overruled the mistrial. The judge then told the court he was disappointed that the matter of the reports was not brought up previously as there had been issues with getting DHS to comply with subpoenas for the records previously that he had to get involved with and this should have all been resolved prior to the testimony. Corley then told Thomas he felt like the prosecution was sponsoring testimony that may have come from confidential reports.
Finally, he told the former DHS witness to go back to the DHS office in Noble County and copy all of the reports that are on the computer on the LeForce case and bring them back to court and if the witness needed DHS legal counsel, to bring them as well. The court is also going to make efforts to get the court records that are probably sealed on the LeForce children and those court proceedings.
It will be an intense and interesting session today as the court is off on Friday so Judge Corley can deal with a docket in Payne County. The case was expected to take until at least Tuesday, as the defense has 28 mitigation witnesses they plan to call.
More to come.