Prosecution-Defense Squabble after DA Tried to Remove Defense Counsel Three Times in Attempted Murder Case

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By Katherine Longjohn

WOODLAND, CA – In the trial readiness conference for Theo Kelso and Isaiah Berkley, who are charged with attempted murder in Feb. 2019, Judge Tom Dyer set a trial date Friday in Yolo County Superior Court after hearing from the attorneys.

While defense counsel for Kelso, attorney Benjamin Williams, had relatively little to say other than he is “all ready to go,” attorney John Brennan, the defense counsel for Berkley, and Deputy District Attorney Jesse Richardson each had something to say in regard to trial date selection.

Defense Counsel Brennan said he is still currently in another trial, but expects that trial to end Monday with the jury delivering their verdict. Accordingly, he asked Judge Dyer if the trial for this case could begin Tuesday, March 29.

However, DDA Richardson had some concerns. Apparently the concerns were not his first.

He described how the timing of this trial would be an issue, essentially creating a “three week jury trial” given the court’s schedule.

And that among scheduling conflicts this would force “all of (his) preliminary hearings and cases for those three weeks (to) need to be reassigned, causing more logistical nightmares (for) everyone,” said DDA Richardson.

DDA Richardson also pointed out that he is still waiting to hear the Sacramento Court’s ruling on whether Defense Counsel Brennan had good cause to delay this trial because of his other preexisting trial.

Coincidentally, while DDA Richardson was detailing his concerns, he received a message from the Sacramento Court saying that they are ready to rule on whether there is good cause to continue and asked for Defense Counsel Brennan’s presence following this conference.

Rather than begin with the trial Monday, DDA Richardson proposed that the court hear motions in limine on Monday and then begin the jury trial on Monday, April 4.

Defense Counsel Brennan addressed these concerns and proposal by noting how he isn’t inclined to agree to this continuance since the prosecution (not DDA Richardson but previous counsel) had tried on three occasions to get him dismissed from this case because of his inability to set a trial date because of other trial commitments.

“I am now saying I am ready on a trial date and now they want to continue. So it’s a bit hard for me to agree when they’ve tried to have me removed from the case three different times because I’ve been in trial,” said Brennan.

In weighing all of the possibilities and their ramifications, Judge Dyer decided to have counsel present motions in limine Monday, March 28, at 1:30 p.m. followed by jury selection Tuesday and Wednesday of next week.

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About The Author

Katherine is a senior at USC majoring in Political Science with a minor in Gender and Social Justice. As an aspiring lawyer, she plans on attending law school after finishing her undergraduate degree in May 2022.

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