LOGAN CO. Ky., (WBKO) -- The jury trial in the case against Demetrius Roberson for the murder of Lexus Bell has been continued. Judge Tyler Gill removed the attorneys for Roberson from the case and has since appointed him new counsel.
The attorneys removed were assigned after the case was certified for the death penalty back in 2018.
According to court records, last Wednesday, July 3 during the final pretrial conference, Roberson's defense counsel made a motion to continue the jury trial and cited discovery issues as well as insufficient time to prepare for the trial.
During the hearing, the defense attorneys stated on record that they had not had ample time to prepare for trial and were not ready to proceed. Judge Gill denied their motion to continue and told the defense to be ready for trial on the following Monday morning.
On the morning of the trial, the Commonwealth Attorney, Neil Kerr, and defense counsel appeared in the chambers to discuss with Judge Gill any remaining issues related to the trial, the defense counsel then stated they were still not prepared for trial and could not offer effective assistance of counsel.
Judge Gill then asked Commonwealth Attorney Kerr what he thought would happen should the case proceed to trial as scheduled and result in a conviction, Kerr said "when we left court last Wednesday, it was my belief 100% that I would be trying this case twice based upon what was put on the record that day. Now based upon what has been put on the record today, I believe there is a 150% chance that this matter will be reversed on appeal if we proceed to trial today and get a conviction.”
Judge Gill then canceled the jury trial and removed the attorneys, and appointed a local attorney from a different department of public advocacy office.
Kerr commented on the decision to continue the jury trial and said, “I am absolutely prepared to take this case to trial today. My office has worked tirelessly along with Det. Kenneth Edmonds of the RPD and other law enforcement officers, to be ready for this day, to seek justice for Lexus Bell. However, it is not fair to her family or this community to spend the next two to three weeks in trial to get a murder conviction that will no doubt be reversed and sent back to us to do over again in two years. That is the only reason that I did not object to a continuance today.”
Judge Gill cited his responsibility to maintain the public trust in the judicial system by seeing that this case went to trial within a reasonable period of time. He also emphasized Roberson’s right to a fair trial and competent counsel.
Kerr responded by saying, “Nothing would undermine the public’s trust in our local judicial system more than having to take this case to trial twice. I can hardly imagine folks around here having much confidence in anyone who is involved in this process if the Commonwealth were to get a conviction for murder and the Court of Appeals were to set aside that conviction, even though there was no error by either my office or law enforcement. That is why I absolutely agree with what Judge Gill did today. I am absolutely confident that we will now be able to proceed to trial in a timely manner, and more importantly, that we will get justice for Lexus Bell that will not be undone by an appeal.”