CHESTER — Both sides are on track for a December trial of Jason Stoker, the man accused of killing a Chester police officer last year.
During a case management conference Monday, Stoker’s defense attorney, James Kelley, was granted another case management conference for Nov. 13, while Randolph County State’s Attorney Jeremy Walker made clear that the state “remains ready for trial.”
Kelley told Judge Richard Brown that he was not saying he was ready nor not ready for trial, but wanted at least one more date set between now and the Dec. 11 trial date.
“There’s still work to be done, but I don’t want to lose that jury setting,” Kelley said after the hearing.
During an Aug. 31 case management conference, Walker requested that a special jury setting be called to accommodate the case. On Monday, he said this was done for two reasons. For practical purposes, Walker said they knew being ready for the October jury setting would be too optimistic — they did not feel they could be ready for trial that soon and there were several holidays to schedule around in November.
Walker also said the length of the trial was a factor in holding a special setting in December. He said the court typically does not like to “clog up” regular jury settings with larger, more complicated cases. Walker said he anticipates that with jury selection included, the state could take two full days to make its case.
Discussing the widespread media coverage of officer James Brockmeyer's death and the subsequent investigation, Walker said he will be hard-pressed to find many people who haven’t heard of the case.
“I think people are going to raise their hand,” he said of jurors being asked who has read about or heard report of what happened to Brockmeyer or about his alleged murderer, Stoker. Still, Walker said just knowing about a case won’t disqualify a person, but making up their minds based on media reports, and not the facts of the trial, could.
Stoker is accused of multiple counts, including reckless homicide as well as first degree murder in the Oct. 28, 2016, death of Brockmeyer. It is alleged that Stoker led Brockmeyer on a high speed chase that led to Brockmeyer’s death when he crashed his police cruiser.
The December trial date will come after Stoker will go on trial in federal court on Nov. 6. In June, a federal grand jury indicted Stoker on one count of conspiracy to distribute more than 50 grams of methamphetamine. The charge alleges that the offense occurred between June and Oct. 31, 2016, in Randolph County.