Tensing retrial will proceed after judge dismisses motion to toss out charges

Attorneys claimed Joe Deters violated gag order

CINCINNATI -- The murder trial against former University of Cincinnati officer Ray Tensing will proceed, Judge Leslie Ghiz ruled Thursday.

Tensing’s attorneys filed a motion Wednesday to dismiss the case, claiming Hamilton County Prosecutor Joe Deters violated a gag order when he spoke to WCPO for a story. Ghiz dismissed the motion Thursday morning with a warning to attorneys on both sides. 

"Do not talk to the media," she said. "If you do next time, I will hold you in contempt."

In the interview at the center of this motion, Deters told WCPO’s Tanya O’Rourke that Ghiz could add lesser charges to the original charges of murder and voluntary manslaughter.

Watch the full interview that sparked this motion below.

 

Tensing, a former University of Cincinnati officer, testified in his first trial that he feared for his life when Samuel DuBose tried to drive away during a 2015 traffic stop. The prosecution argued that he had not been in danger at the moment he shot DuBose, and the case attracted national attention as one in a string of highly publicized incidents of fatal interactions between black civilians and white police officers.

That high degree of media attention paid to the case was one of the stated reasons for the gag order's issuance in December 2016.

"In light of the unprecedented and extensive media coverage ... this protective order is intended to prevent media coverage of statements that might influence the potential jury pool and the outcome of the case," Ghiz wrote in her order. 

Read the gag order:

Gag order issued in Tensing retrial by WCPO Web Team on Scribd

According to the motion filed by Tensing's attorneys Wednesday, Deters' decision to speak with WCPO was "a blatant attempt to influence and bias prospective jurors on the eve of their reporting date."

The motion stated Deters had previously been reprimanded for violating the gag order and, given that "the bell cannot be unrung," the only way to mitigate the harm perceived by the defense was to dismiss Tensing's indictment with prejudice.

Two officials from Deters' office oversaw the interview WCPO conducted.

Deters prosecuted the first case against Tensing, which ended with a hung jury, but stepped away from the second, saying he wouldn't have time amidst the resentencing hearing of convicted serial killer Anthony Kirkland. Kirkland's hearing was originally scheduled to overlap with Tensing's retrial, but was recently rescheduled to Aug. 31.

Former Hamilton County judge Norbert Nadel said Wednesday night he would have been shocked if the case were thrown out based on the defense's motion.

"What (Deters) said was pretty innocuous, and I think most of the things that he said have already been in the media ever," he said. "If it happens, it will be something that I haven't seen anywhere in all my decades of being a judge and my legal experience."

Nadel said he believed the interview could become a question jurors are asked during their initial examinations.

"They may ask these jurors, 'Have you heard anything in the media? Does it make any difference?'"

Jury selection began Thursday morning with questionnaires; juror voir dire could begin Friday. 

Read the defense's full motion:

Defense's motion to dismiss indictment against Ray Tensing by WCPO Web Team on Scribd

For complete trial coverage, visit wcpo.com/TensingTrial.

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