Friday, December 3, 2010

Birmingham police beating video: Judge denies request by officer to have separate trial

Published: Thursday, December 02, 2010, 4:24 PM ??? Updated: Thursday, December 02, 2010, 4:44 PM

A federal judge today denied a request by one of the two former Birmingham police officers charged in the 2008 beating of an already-unconscious suspect to have a separate trial from the other man accused.

[See the video below.]

The trial for David Wayne Doran and Barrett G. Dewitt is set to begin Jan. 3.

In a seven-page ruling issued this afternoon, Chief U.S. District Judge Sharon Lovelace Blackburn denied a motion by Dewitt to sever his trial from that of Doran.

Dewitt's attorney filed a motion Nov. 3 asking that the trial be held separately from Doran's trial.

Dewitt would be prejudiced in the event evidence against his co-defendant
is submitted to the jury, according to the motion. "Mr. Dewitt expects the evidence to be in the form of the co-defendants action," according to Dewitt's motion.

"Mr. Dewitt believes there are photographs of the suspect, A.W. (Anthony Shannon Warren), which may be admitted against the co-defendant. Mr. Dewitt aver(s) said photographs should not be admitted in his case."

In her ruling Thursday, however, Blackburn states that Dewitt failed to satisfy his burden of demonstrating "specific and compelling prejudice to the conduct of his defense" that would result from a joint trial. Dewitt also failed to show "a risk of compelling prejudice" that the court could not address with measures less drastic than separating the trials, including cautionary instructions to the jury, she wrote.

Doran and Dewitt were two of five officers fired from Birmingham's police force a year and a half ago. The two were charged in one-count indictments with using unreasonable force in the arrest of Warren. The indictments claim Dewitt and Doran aided and abetted one another in striking the man they were arresting with their fists, feet and a baton.

Both?men have pleaded not guilty to the charge.

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