Charges could still be filed in dismissed Trussville murder case - WSFA.com: News Weather and Sports for Montgomery, AL.

Charges could still be filed in dismissed Trussville murder case

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Source: MGN Online Source: MGN Online
BIRMINGHAM, AL (WBRC) -

A defense attorney is speaking out after the Jefferson County DA dismissed a murder case against his client.

Trussville Police had charged Freddie Patton with the murder of 81-year-old Kenneth Millar. Wednesday, that case was dismissed but the DA could still present the case to a grand jury.

This is an example of prosecutorial discretion can go. A prosecutor can place a case before a grand jury before a suspect is even arrested. This is a common practice at the federal level.

Prosecutors can also bring a case to a grand jury while a suspect is in custody or even if a charge is dismissed. It's a right the U.S. Supreme Court has granted but it's not one that defense attorneys like.

John Lentine, Patton's attorney, says during the preliminary hearing, he wanted to question a Trussville investigator about the coroner's report.

Prosecutors objected and that's when Lentine says he asked the coroner be allowed to testify. That's when he says the prosecutor asked the judge to dismiss the charge.

He feels that the DA will now take the case to a grand jury, which is a closed process when only prosecutors are allowed to present evidence.

"I don't think it's fair to the system," Lentine said. "I think it is to the prosecutor's advantage that they do not have to show their cards...the evidence they have."

John Carroll, Dean of Samford University's Cumberland School of Law, stresses that those serving on a grand jury have some rights, such as asking questions of the witnesses.

"The juries are generally interested in what's going on and understand what the evidence is," he said.

The DA still has not confirmed they will present the case to a grand jury but Lentine expects they will very soon.

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