AG to present Kerrick case to second grand jury

AG to present Kerrick case to second grand jury

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by DIANA RUGG / NBC Charlotte

Bio | Email | Follow: @DianaRuggwcnc

WCNC.com

Posted on January 26, 2014 at 10:33 PM

Updated Monday, Jan 27 at 5:43 PM

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- A judge denied the defense's motion to prevent a second grand jury from hearing the Randall Kerrick case on Monday morning.

A Mecklenburg County judge's decision allows prosecutors to seek a grand jury indictment of CMPD Officer Randall Kerrick.

After the ruling, prosecutors said they intend to take the case to the grand jury.

A Mecklenburg County grand jury declined last Tuesday to indict Kerrick for voluntary manslaughter in the shooting death of Jonathan Ferrell, 24, in September.

Ferrell had gotten into a car accident and gone to a nearby home for help, where the homeowner called 911 because she believed that Ferrell was breaking in.

Three officers confronted Ferrell near the home and Kerrick shot Ferrell, hitting him 10 times and killing him, according to police accounts.

In a rare move, Attorney General Roy Cooper said his office would submit the case to the grand jury again Monday, because not all 18 grand jurors heard the case the first time.

George Laughrun and Michael Greene, attorneys for officer Randall Kerrick, filed an appeal Friday to keep the case from being presented again.

"They went ahead they took their shot at it, it failed, and now they're kind of stuck with the result of it," is how criminal defense attorney Adam Seifer says Kerrick's attorneys view the appeal.

Seifer, of SeiferFlatow law firm, is not connected to the case in any way, but he is watching it closely, like many others across Charlotte.

He said the standard for indicting a person is so low that it's rare for someone not to get indicted in a case like this.

Two grand juries take turns hearing cases in Mecklenburg County, each for a week at a time.  If the case is presented again this week, it would be to a different set of grand jurors.

Community activist John Barnett said protest groups are ready to rally and call for boycotts if Kerrick isn't indicted on a second try.

"Involuntary to me is one bullet," said Barnett.  "Voluntary manslaughter is three bullets.  Ten bullets is murder, period.  That's how I feel."

Barnett said the case has received worldwide attention.  Seifer said that's got to affect how a second grand jury views their responsibilities.

"Now you have people demonstrating, and you have all these people saying, 'How could you not return  a true bill?'" said Seifer.  "It's going to be very difficult for the people in that room, frankly, to come back without returning a true bill."

"There's a lot of pressure on them now," he added.

Seifer said the first grand jury asked the attorney general to come back with a lesser charge, but Seifer said there is no "lesser charge" for voluntary manslaughter.

Seifer explained that voluntary manslaughter considers intent.  For instance, if a defendant meant to shoot at someone but did it in "the heat of the moment," then the circumstances could be considered while deciding guilt or innocence.

A grand jury could consider a law officer acting in the line of duty during a confrontation would fit that definition, said

On the other hand, a charge of involuntary manslaughter leans more towards gross negligence, said Seifer.  An example is someone who fires a gun into a crowd and hits someone, even if he didn't intend to.

They are two completely different circumstances and thresholds of evidence, said Seifer.

"That's the conundrum the state faces -- there really isn't a lesser charge to go back to," he said.

Further, the state is arguing that it has the right to submit the case again, but Kerrick's attorney believe it does not.

A judge is scheduled to hear from the Attorney General's office and Kerrick's attorney about the motion Monday.   He would likely need to issue a decision before the case could proceed.

There is no timetable for when that decision would be issued.

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