No decision this week on third trial for former University of Cincinnati police officer Ray Tensing

Posted at 9:44 AM, Jul 12, 2017
and last updated 2017-07-12 17:33:10-04

CINCINNATI -- Hamilton County Prosecutor Joe Deters won't announce this week if he'll seek a third trial against Ray Tensing.

He may announce his decision next week, spokeswoman Julie Wilson said Wednesday.

Two juries have deadlocked over the past eight months, resulting in two mistrials.

Deters has until July 24 to decide. That's when Judge Leslie Ghiz scheduled the next hearing. Tensing's defense team filed a motion last month to acquit him of all charges.

READ MORE: How did we end up with another hung jury?

The family of Sam DuBose, the man Tensing killed, said they want a third trial. Several activist groups also have kept up pressure on the prosecutor, marching as recently as Saturday through Over-the-Rhine.


"A retrial, for the DuBose family, would be horrible," Deters told 700 WLW's Bill Cunningham last week. "A retrial, for the Tensing family, would be horrible. But I swore to uphold the law. In the end, I'm going to do what I think is right."

A grand jury indicted Tensing, a former University of Cincinnati police officer, on charges of murder and voluntary manslaughter nearly two years ago. There's no question he shot DuBose in the head; instead, the trials have focused on whether the shooting was justified.

Tensing has claimed DuBose tried to speed off from a traffic stop while his arm was caught in DuBose's car, causing him to fear for his life. Expert witnesses have presented different accounts of whether Tensing had reason to believe he was in danger, and whether he responded appropriately.

One of the largest obstacles in Deters' way is the fact that he cannot, at this point, add lesser charges -- charges on which a skittish juror might be more likely to convict -- to Tensing's docket. Deters said the deadline to make changes to the charges against Tensing passed weeks before his first trial even began.


Assistant Prosecutor Seth Tieger requested the addition of a lesser charge, reckless homicide, halfway through the second trial. Ghiz denied the request.

"Essentially, what the state asks me to do is to give the jury an option," Ghiz said. "I don't see it, based on a case such as this."

TIMELINE: Sam DuBose's shooting death to Ray Tensing's murder trials

Deters was criticized by some for possibly "overreaching" or "overcharging" Tensing for shooting and killing DuBose during a traffic stop in July 2015, especially after Tensing's second trial ended in a hung jury.

"To say the prosecutors overreached -- that’s idiotic," Deters told Cunningham.

The decision to bring lesser charges against Tensing was considered nearly two years ago, he said. Common Pleas Court Judge John "Skip" West reviewed evidence of the case and went to a grand jury.

At that time, charges of murder, voluntary manslaughter, reckless homicide and negligent homicide were all considered, Deters said. The grand jury returned an indictment for murder and voluntary manslaughter.

DuBose's family blasted Ghiz shortly after the second mistrial, saying she essentially acted as a second defense attorney.

Terina Allen, DuBose's older sister, said she believes her brother was on trial in Ghiz's courtroom -- not Tensing. Jurors didn't look at the merits of the case, she said, but instead judged her brother's lifestyle. DuBose had 13 children, and there was marijuana in the car when Tensing stopped him.

"The trial was about drugs, children and whether or not Sam's life was valuable," Allen said.

She faulted Ghiz for letting jurors hear about DuBose's life but not allowing the prosecution to present more about Tensing.

Deters also criticized some Ghiz's decisions; he said evidence of Tensing's prior good acts were allowed, but prior bad acts were barred.

"If the defense brought up character, we should have been able to show that as well," Deters said. "It was incredibly prejudicial."

He also said the defense's video analyst expert should not have been qualified as an expert, especially after he said, in court, that he was not a video analyst. Deters called him "a cartoonist."

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