CINCINNATI -- Hamilton County Prosecutor Joe Deters is no longer assigned to the Ray Tensing case.
Deters said the retrial of Tensing, a former University of Cincinnati police officer, coincides with the retrial of convicted serial killer Anthony Kirkland. Both are set for May 2017, which would make it difficult for him to prepare for both cases.
Chief Assistant Prosecutors Seth Tieger and Stacey DeGraffenreid will prosecute the Tensing case.
"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."
Julie Wilson, chief assistant prosecutor and public information officer, said Deters is not inferring that either of these cases could be delayed due to this shift in teams.
"As with any case, there is always the possibility that the case could be rescheduled due to witness schedules, attorney conflicts, etc. but the change in prosecutors should not impact the date," Wilson said.
Deters said both Tieger and DeGraffenreid will provide a "fresh set of eyes to the case."
"This was a hard decision for me, as I feel strongly about prosecuting the Tensing case myself, but it is crucial that both cases have prosecutors assigned who can properly prepare," he said.
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.
Deters said issues of race, DuBose's criminal background and lifestyle (he had 13 kids by at least seven women)
"absolutely crept into the jury room" even though Shanahan banned testimony about DuBose's criminal and health records.
He suggested he might seek to move the trial elsewhere -- perhaps Cleveland or Columbus -- to improve the chance of finding jurors who haven't been exposed to the deluge of media coverage the case has received here.
But for now, the retrial is still set to be held in Hamilton County beginning May 25, 2017.
Ghiz signed a gag order in December barring the defense and prosecution teams from talking about the case with media.
Cincinnati attorney Carl Lewis said the fresh perspectives could prove to be an advantage when presenting the case to a jury.
“They're (Tieger and DeGraffenreid) quite capable, and some would even argue it's a good choice to have litigating lawyers in there,” Lewis said. “Not to say Joe Deters didn't do a good job, but this is what they do everyday.”
But Bishop Bobby Hilton, who has previously served as a spokesperson for the DuBose family, said he is concerned about the switch.
“That team knew what the defense was doing, knew what didn't work the first time,” Hilton said. “And now you bring in a new team, and they don't have that experience.”
DuBose’s sister, Terina Allen, said she was told Deters will still help with the case, and her biggest hope is the case will move forward as scheduled in May.