Friday, December 03, 1999

Mistrial in Hamilton slaying

Defendant's arrest record mentioned

The Cincinnati Enquirer

        HAMILTON — A Butler County judge declared a mistrial after a prosecution witness mentioned a previous ar rest of a man being tried on a charge of murder.

        Manuel Ramirez Garcia, 20, of Hamilton was on trial in the June 25 shooting death of Jose Juan Hernandez. Mr. Hernandez was gunned down in the 700 block of Buckeye Street in Hamilton.

        Police Officer Daryl Coppock was testifying late Monday, the trial's first day, about statements Mr. Garcia made to him after being arrested later during the night of the shooting.

        Officer Coppock had written down some of Mr. Garcia's statements on a notebook page.

        Assistant Prosecutor Pat Moeller asked him about certain abbreviations and dates on the page.

        Officer Coppock said they referred to a previous arrest of Mr. Garcia.

        Mr. Garcia's defense attorneys, Scott Frederick and BriAn Goodyear, immediately asked for a mistrial. They said that information about a previous arrest would unfairly prejudice the jury against Mr. Garcia.


        Common Pleas Judge Patricia Oney agreed.

        Mr. Garcia's new trial will begin Jan. 10.

        Judge Oney said that information about a prior arrest was too serious to simply tell the jury to disregard it.

        “Sometimes you can give a curative instruction to the jury,” the judge said. “But you couldn't be guaranteed in this case that it would have cured the problem. It's like ringing a bell. You can't unring a bell.”

        Mr. Moeller could not be reached for comment.

        Mr. Frederick said that before questioning Officer Coppock on the witness stand, Mr. Moeller had no idea certain notations in the notebook referred to a previous arrest.


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