MEMPHIS, Tenn. — The five former officers charged in the death of Tyre Nichols had a court hearing Friday morning.
The former officers did not appear in court. Only their lawyers were present. The state says all discovery has been turned over to the defense.
A trial date may be decided at the next hearing however, the former officers may be tried separately.
“If others are with us when we go, that’s fine,” said William D. Massey, representing Emmit Martin. “If they want to wait and try their case at a different time, that’s up to them.”
All five officers have been charged with second-degree murder in the Nichols case. They’re also charged with aggravated assault, two counts of aggravated kidnapping, two counts of official misconduct, and official oppression.
However, Smith, Bean, and now Mills are asking to be tried separately.
In a motion filed by Mills’ attorney, he says since there are different degrees of involvement among the codefendants, this will “likely result in confusion for the jury and prejudices the movant’s right to a fair trial.”
“You have two different scenes. Mr. Mills was not at the first scene. There’s a danger of a jury being confused,” said Blake Ballin, representing Desmond Mills.
Prosecutor Paul Hagerman says he opposes trying the five separately. “We’re going to make it clear that it’s a matter of law,” he said. “We believe they should be tried together. The law of criminal responsibility.”
Hagerman says most of the discovery has been turned over, but he says many of the attorneys have specific non-traditional requests which his office is working to obtain from the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation.
“What’s the Memphis police policy on the use of force, then we will look at the conduct of the officers and see if it’s within those guidelines,” said Massey.
Shelby County Criminal Court Judge James Jones Jr. says the decision on whether the former officers will be tried together or separately will be determined during the severance hearing on September 15.
During that time the defendants will be present, and a trial date may also be decided.