LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- In another unusual twist to what has long been far from an ordinary case, Dejuan Hammond's third murder trial was postponed during the middle of jury selection Thursday because of an "issue" with a witness.
And nobody - not prosecutors, defense attorneys nor the judge - would talk about what the issue was or why the case was again being delayed. The prosecution and defense, long at odds in this case, even agreed on a statement to give to the press before leaving court.
"We needed a continuance to prepare for a future proceeding," is all both sides would say.
Judge Angela McCormick Bisig sealed three hearings the prosecution and defense had in her chambers over the last two days about the issue. She wouldn't comment further.
Assistant Commonwealth's Attorney Leland Hulbert said there is a new date in the case set for Nov. 18 but declined to say anything else. Commonwealth's Attorney Tom Wine also declined to comment Thursday morning.
Defense attorney Ted Shouse asked Bisig for a continuance after both sides had talked at length in the judge's chambers. Prosecutors did not object and Bisig allowed the continuance, dismissing the jurors.
Jury selection was supposed to end today, with opening arguments expected this afternoon.
This is Hammond's third trial for his alleged involvement in the murder of Troya Sheckles, who was shot to death in Shelby Park in 2009, allegedly to prevent her from testifying against his brother, Lloyd Hammond.
The first trial ended last year when prosecutors couldn't find key witnesses. The second trial ended in a mistrial in April when prosecutors found a summary of an interview with a key witness that had never been turned over to the defense. Princess Bolin, Hammond's former girlfriend, gave him an alibi for the murder in the interview. She has since changed her story and is a key witness against Hammond.
Defense attorneys have asked Bisig to dismiss the case three times for prosecutorial misconduct, claiming prosecutors have repeatedly withheld evidence. Bisig has agreed with the defense in two of those motions that evidence was improperly withheld, but has allowed the case to go forward. She allowed the defense to tell jurors that evidence was withheld.
Prosecutors have said a co-defendant, Steven Pettway, was acting at the behest of Dejuan Hammond, because Sheckles had agreed weeks earlier to testify against Lloyd in the 2006 murder of her boyfriend and two other men. Pettway was convicted of murder and intimidation in May of 2013.
During Pettway's trial a witness testified that Hammond sent her to Shelby Park to look for a woman and report back to him shortly before Sheckles was killed. Pettway was sentenced to 55 years in prison. A judge has denied Pettway's request for shock probation.
An attorney for Pettway has asked that his conviction be set aside because some of the evidence withheld in the Hammond trial also mentioned Pettway. That motion is pending.