Defense attorneys want indictments in murder of 1-year-old dismi - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Defense attorneys want indictments in murder of 1-year-old dismissed

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Ne'Riah Miller Ne'Riah Miller
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Attorneys for two of the men indicted in the fatal shooting of a toddler in the Shawnee neighborhood have asked that the cases be dismissed because a prosecutor was on the grand jury panel that handed up the indictments.

“I don't understand how in the world that anyone can indict a case with a sitting prosecutor on the grand jury,” Jonathan Scheib, an attorney for Demarkus Tramber, told Circuit Court Judge Angela McCormick Bisig on Monday. “It doesn't make any sense how that can be an unbiased third party view of any sort of facts.”

Police have charged Tramber with complicity to murder, assault and wanton endangerment in the death of 16-month-old Ne'Riah Miller. He turned himself in on Tuesday. Trey Anderson, William McLemore  and Michael Dunn are facing the same charges and are lodged in Metro Corrections.

Scott Drabenstadt, an attorney for Anderson, has also filed a motion to dismiss the indictment because Assistant County Attorney Jim Higgins is on the September grand jury panel that indicted the men.

In an interview, Drabenstadt said Anderson's case was initially handled in District Court, where Higgins is a prosecutor and a judge needs to decide if his serving on the grand jury is a conflict.

Assistant Commonwealth's Attorney Ryane Conroy told Bisig on Monday that there is “nothing improper” in having a county attorney on the grand jury and prosecutors are confident the indictments will stand.

The Commonwealth's Attorney's Office also pointed out past case law has stated that, unlike a trial jury, a person is not entitled to an “unbiased grand jury.”

In 2005, the Kentucky Supreme Court ruled in a case in which the county jailer in McCracken County was the grand jury foreperson that grand jurors do not have to be impartial and unbiased.

“A grand jury does not pass on the guilt or innocence of the defendant, but merely determines whether he should be brought to trial,” the high court ruled. “It is purely an accusatory body.”

Jessie Halladay, a spokesperson for the county attorney's office, acknowledged that a prosecutor was on the grand jury panel this month but said he disclosed his job and was not excused.

Judge Bisig set an Oct. 29 court date to hear the issue.

Police say Miller and her mother were sitting on the front porch of their home on Aug. 27 when a gunman ran up the steps and opened fire. Ne'Riah was killed, and her mother was injured.

Anderson, Dunn and McLemore are being held on a $500,000 full cash bond.

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