CINCINNATI -- The new prosecutors working on the Ray Tensing murder trial were in court Monday for the first time.
Chief Assistant Prosecutors Stacey DeGraffenreid and Seth Tieger are now trying the ex-UCPD officer for murder after Hamilton County Prosecutor Joe Deters was removed from the case.
Tensing and his attorney Stew Mathews were not in court Monday; Mathews' co-counsel Gwen Callender represented the defense.
Judge Leslie Ghiz signed a gag order in December barring the defense and prosecution teams from talking about the case with media. She said the gag order is an attempt to preserve potential jurors in Hamilton County.
"I know it’s very difficult for the media, trust me," the judge said. "It’s difficult for my friends to ask me questions about it. It’s difficult for their friends and family not to ask questions about it, but we have to preserve the integrity of the process and more importantly to keep this trial in Hamilton County and to be certain that we are able to seat a jury here."
Deters requested a change of venue when he decided to retry Tensing for murder and voluntary manslaughter. Ghiz denied the request (for now), on the assumption that another jury could be found in Hamilton County.
"It’s not to keep people in the dark, it’s simply to make sure that we can seat a jury in Hamilton County," Ghiz said. "My job is not only to protect the integrity of the process, but it’s also to be certain that we can seat a jury here. That’s my number one concern right now and I will do everything I can to make sure that happens for the interest of all parties."
Deters' office said he stepped down from the Tensing retrial so he can focus on retrying convicted serial killer Anthony Kirkland. Both trials are set for May 2017.
"Even though one or both of these cases may be reset, it is important that both of these serious cases have prosecution teams who can devote the time needed to prepare for these retrials," Deters said. "Mr. Piepmeier, Mr. Gibson and I will handle serial killer Anthony Kirkland’s case and veteran prosecutors Seth Tieger and Stacey DeGraffenreid are now assigned to the Tensing case."
Jurors couldn't reach a unanimous verdict on either charge filed against Tensing -- murder and voluntary manslaughter -- for killing motorist Sam DuBose during a traffic stop in July 2015.
Judge Megan Shanahan declared a hung jury and a mistrial.
After two other judges recused themselves, Ghiz was handed the case.
Ghiz said the trial is still on track to begin May 25. The next report date is set for Feb. 27 at 9:30.