Trial for Derrick Stafford delayed to March 2017; state to pay for expert witnesses

Trial for Derrick Stafford delayed to March 2017; state to pay for expert witnesses

MARKSVILLE, LA (WAFB) - The trial for one of the deputy marshals accused of shooting and killing a 6-year-old boy in Marksville has been pushed back after a ruling concerning expert witnesses.

Derrick Stafford will now go to trial on March 13, 2017. His trial was originally set for November 28, but was delayed as new changes with expert witnesses were also ruled on in court Monday.

Stafford and Norris Greenhouse Jr. are two deputy marshals in Marksville accused of killing Jeremy Mardis, 6, during a pursuit. Jeremy's father, Chris Few, was also shot but he survived.

Investigators have said between the two deputies, 18 shots were fired with 14 coming from Stafford's gun and four from Greenhouse's.

Stafford was ruled indigent, meaning he does not have the money to pay for expert witnesses on his own and the court must provide it. His lawyer, Jonathan Goins, requested two experts: one who would reconstruct the shooting scene and testify about it at trial and another expert on use of force.

Judge William Bennett reversed his order saying the state of Louisiana will have to pay for Derrick Stafford's expert who will reconstruct the shooting scene, not Avoyelles Parish like he initially ordered. It has not been made clear yet which specific state agency will have to pick up the cost.

The Avoyelles Parish Police Jury was initially ordered to pay $4,368 for Stafford's reconstruction expert, but the police jury as a whole refused to pay and hired a lawyer to represent them Monday at a hearing.

Bennett also granted a "use of force" expert for Stafford. Over the summer, the judge denied the motion for a "use of force" expert and told Stafford's attorneys that he needed in writing why they needed the expert.

The judge never received a write-up so he denied the motion. Stafford's attorneys took that to the appeals court, who overturned the judge's ruling and essentially told Bennett he had to grant Stafford's second expert.

At Monday's hearing, Bennett only granted the expert, which the defense attorney called his "most vital witness to the case." The State of Louisiana will also have to pick up the tab for the second expert. However, there is no word yet on how much it will cost or which state agency will pick up the cost.

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