Archive for Thursday, November 8, 2001

Mistake delays murder trial

November 8, 2001

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— A Franklin County murder trial Wednesday was continued to January after a judge read the wrong charge to a pool of potential jurors.

People summoned for jury duty had gathered in District Judge James Smith's courtroom prior to the trial of John Powell, who is charged with second-degree murder.

A 12-person jury was to be selected from those summoned. Smith mistakenly read that Powell is charged with premeditated first-degree murder. When the judge realized his mistake, he continued the trial to Jan. 9, 2002.

A new group of people will be summoned for that trial date.

Smith could not be reached for comment Wednesday afternoon. Franklin County Attorney John Dowell declined to comment.

Court Administrator John Steelman said there had been a mistrial and the case was continued to Jan. 9.

A court listing in Powell's case file, however, did not mention a mistrial and said only that it had been continued. Powell, 44, Overbrook, is charged with the murder of Barney Riley, 39, Lawrence.

Riley's body was found by children June 11 behind an abandoned house in the 1600 block of Shawnee Road.

The charge against Powell has been amended more than once, and at one time he had been charged with premeditated murder.

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