Big question in Ray Tensing trial: Will former UC officer testify in shooting death of Sam DuBose?

Accused murderer says he feared being run over
Posted at 9:49 PM, Oct 24, 2016
and last updated 2016-10-25 09:37:52-04

CINCINNATI – Will he or won't he?

That's one of the big questions in the Ray Tensing trial:

Will the former University of CIncinnati officer charged with murder in the shooting death of Sam DuBose, an unarmed black motorist, take the stand in his own defense?

Tensing is also charged with voluntary manslaughter  in the July 19, 2015, shooting after a Mount Auburn traffic stop.

There's no clear indication that defense attorney Stew Mathews will put his client on the stand. Experts say there are good reasons to do it and good reasons not to do it.

Criminal defense attorney Merlyn Shiverdcker says the general rule is "Don't Do It."

 "Typically, most defendants do not help themselves when they take the stand and inevitably they harm themselves when they take the stand," Shiverdecker said Monday.

Tensing's attorney has said his client was being dragged by DuBose's car and feared for his life when he shot.

That would be up to the defense to prove.

"It often does require the defendant to take the stand and tell that jury, 'I was in fear of my life. That is why I pulled the trigger. That is why I shot that person because I was afraid that I was going to die,' " Shiverdecker said.

But there's risk in doing that.

"If the defendant is a bad witness, the prosecution will often just eat them up and spit them out," said Shiverdecker.

Here's a timetable of how the trial will play out:

Jurors begin to fill out questionnaires Tuesday, then the prosecution and defense will study them the rest of the week before starting direct examination of those jurors next week. Actual testimony probably won't begin before Nov. 7.

RELATED: Long process of jury selection begins Tuesday