Friday, March 19, 2004

State asks hearing on perjury charge

The Associated Press

LOUISVILLE - Prosecutors are asking a judge for a private hearing about recent allegations that perjured testimony was used to clear two Louisville police officers of a fatal shooting more than a year ago.

In court papers filed Thursday, Jefferson County Commonwealth's Attorney David Stengel defended the investigation into last year's shooting death of James Taylor. He said nothing illegal was done.

He said if any information from the grand jury is released, all of it should be open.

Simply allowing one grand juror to speak would not give the full picture of what went on, Stengel wrote. Only by releasing the entire transcript of the grand jury proceeding will the public see that nothing was done wrong, Stengel wrote.

A person claiming to be a member of a grand jury that cleared two officers in Taylor's death filed a motion Monday asking Jefferson Circuit Judge Geoffrey Morris to waive court rules requiring grand jury proceedings to be kept secret. The person, who was not named, said in the motion that prosecutors used perjured testimony during the grand jury proceedings.

Morris said he will consider the motion, filed by attorneys Christopher Lasch and Michael Goodwin, on March 22.

The grand jury cleared Detective Michael O'Neil and his partner, Bryan Luckett, in Taylor's death. O'Neil shot Taylor 11 times on Dec. 5, 2002, while Taylor was holding a box-cutter knife with his hands cuffed behind his back. Police said Taylor had lunged at O'Neil and Luckett with the knife.

The shooting was one of many in recent years that drew heavy criticism from activists, since Taylor was black and the officers are white.

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