4 charged with Rapid City murder want to be tried together, state argues otherwise
RAPID CITY, S.D. (KOTA) - One woman and three men are back in court today. They are all charged with aiding and abetting 1st-degree-murder in the shooting death of Jesus Vance at the South Dakota Rose Inn back in April.
The issue before the judge is whether or not there will be four trials or one. Tracy Laughlin, Travis Nelson, Gilbert Reyna and William Long all want to be tried together, but the state wants to sever each case and try them individually.
The main issue is whether or not one defendant’s rights could be violated if another defendant testifies against them at a joint trial.
The state argues that Laughlin implicated everyone in her statements with police, including herself, and so to avoid any potential conflict or violation of rights it would be best to try each person individually. The state wants Laughlin tried first.
Reyna’s attorney argued that statements from all the defendants should be dropped and not admitted at trial which would also eliminate any conflicts.
Long’s attorney told the court that since all the defendants were charged together, they should be tried together. But if the cases are severed, Long wants to be tried first.
Finally, Nelson’s attorney says the law tends to favor jointly-tried cases.
Judge Jeffrey Connolly says he will review the roughly eight hours of defendants’ interviews with the police, as well as 20-pages of police narratives before deciding if he’ll sever the cases.
The state has until next Tuesday to file a formal motion to sever, and the defense has two days after that to file a response.
The Court will meet again November 1 to find out how to proceed with the trial tentatively set to start November 8.
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