By: Lydia Crawley
The Parsons Advocate
Justin Mallow appeared in person before the Honorable Robert E. Ryan. The hearing was a Final Pre-Trial Conference before Mallow’s trial begins January 8. Mallow appeared with his attorney Jim Hawkins. Megan Fields appeared via phone for the State at the hearing.
Hawkins informed the court that he is actively seeking a competing expert witness and may file a motion to contest the State’s expert witness’ competency in the case. Hawkins did say he was having difficulty in locating an expert witness, but was still seeking one. “I’ve found no one who fits that bill,” Hawkins said. “It’s one of the things I’d like to explore on the 27th.”
Judge Ryan instructed counsel to have any defense motions pertaining to the expert witness filed by the 15th with State responses due by the 22nd. Should any motions be filed, the matter of whether or not to dismiss any expert witness will be addressed at a pre-trial motions hearing on the 27th in Grant County. The State expressed concerns about her witness being excluded in front of the Jury. Judge Ryan said he would not deny the defense their right to contest the witness, but said if any motion to exclude was filed, the witness could be brought before the court on the 27th, but only if the motion included a challenge to qualifications and he would address the matter then.
Fields informed the court that she had extended a plea agreement to Mallow through his attorney. “I did extend a plea offer to the defendant,” Fields said.
Hawkins acknowledged receipt of the plea agreement, but had not had an opportunity to discuss the particulars with his client yet. No particulars of the agreement were discussed in open court, but Fields did say that the agreement had a deadline. However, should the defense require extra time on the offer, Fields said she was willing to work with them. “If more time is needed, reach out,” Fields said.
Hawkins withdrew a motion for a competency evaluation for his client at the appearance. “We’re not pursuing that at this time,” Hawkins said. Hawkins cited the particulars of the case and its relevancy to case law as his cause for the withdrawal.
Hawkins also asked the court for accommodation with the start date of the trial due to a conflicting Jury trial in Randolph County. “That would save me a lot of difficulty,” Hawkins said. “They will not change a Jury selection.”
To accommodate the Randolph County case, Judge Ryan scheduled Jury selection in the Mallow case. A further accommodation was made to have the trial begin later in the day. “Let’s go ahead and
start at 1 pm to give the Jury enough time to deliberate and return a verdict,” Judge Ryan said.
Fields said the State expects a half day of evidence in the case. Mallow is charged with one count of sexual abuse, one count of sexual abuse by a parent, guardian, custodian or person in a position of trust to a child.