Tensing's attorney: I was so 'incensed' that Deters talked to media during gag order

'The jury pool is absolutely poisoned'
Posted at 12:27 PM, May 25, 2017
and last updated 2017-05-25 19:35:52-04

CINCINNATI -- "If you give children a command, you don't expect them to obey."

That was defense attorney Stew Mathews' message Thursday morning as he argued that charges against his client, former University of Cincinnati officer Ray Tensing, should be dismissed.

Mathews said the case should be thrown out because Hamilton County Prosecutor Joe Deters violated a gag order when he spoke to WCPO for a story. His team filed a motion to dismiss shortly after a story was published on Wednesday afternoon.

"My phone started ringing at 2 p.m. Wednesday with people telling me to go see what Deters has done," Mathews said. "I was so incensed that I filed a motion to dismiss."

Mathews filed the motion the evening before prospective jurors arrived at the Hamilton County courthouse to fill out questionnaires. Twelve will ultimately be selected to serve and decide Tensing's fate. 

"This was the night before 235 people were to report to the courthouse as prospective jurors," Mathews said. "This is a blatant attempt to try to influence the jury...The jury pool is absolutely poisoned."

Mathews's 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.

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.

"He agreed to talk about what is considered in bringing charges," Assistant Prosecutor Mark Piepmeier said. "He did not try to defy the court order or influence the jury. There is no precedent to dismiss the charges."

Deters, who is not prosecuting the retrial, began the interview by saying he would only speak generally, in light of the gag order.

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

WATCH the interview below


Ghiz dismissed the motion Thursday morning with a warning to attorneys on both sides. 

"I am warning Mr. Deters and anyone in the office, do not talk to the press," she said. "If that happens, I will hold that person in contempt and fine them a significant amount of money."

Ghiz said the possibility of lesser charges was "already on the record."

"I do not believe that dismissing the charges is in the best interest of anyone," Ghiz said. "If this had been more egregious, I would have.

"Disappointed is not a strong enough word," she said. "I am very angry that either party would do this."

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