In a Muscogee County Superior Court hearing to set rules in the Ricardo Strozier capital murder trial, defense attorney H. Burton Baker objected to his client wearing an electronic ankle braceletThe ankle bracelet is similar to a police Taser gun, in the fact that it can deliver an immobilizing shock, if a deputy triggered it. Baker said the bracelet is a torture device and demanded it removed at the Monday hearing.
Muscogee Sheriff’s Maj. Mike Massy, who represented the division of the sheriff’s office that oversees the courtroom, testified whether the electronic ankle bracelet was necessary for Strozier to wear. Massy said the ankle bracelet is concealed under Strozier’s clothing and is being used instead of handcuffs and shackles.
Baker had already argued that the use of visible restraints would give potential jurors the impression that Strozier was dangerous. Baker questioned Massy, who admitted that Strozier has not been in any trouble in jail, since his arrest, after Jackson’s homicide. He has also not given authorities any reason to suspect he would harm anyone or attempt to flee.
Strozier’s attorney also argued that the six deputies standing by the defendant in the courtroom would have a prejudicial impact. He said it would create the impression that the defendant requires additional guards. Judge Gil McBride ordered the electronic bracelet be removed, but ordered that Strozier have shackles. The judge ordered that photographers in the courtroom are not permitted to record Strozier entering or leaving the courtroom with the leg chains on, so his case would not be prejudiced by potential jurors who might see the images.
The uniformed officers were later dispersed, so that only a few remained by the defendant. Strozier was indicted on 10 felony counts that stem from the murder of Heath Jackson, in a September 7, 2010 fatal shooting. Jackson died outside of his home at 1667 Carter Aveneue, after he confronted an intruder in his house. Strozier was also charged with robbing another man at gunpoint in Columbus, after breaking into his home. he was charged with a break-in at a Virginia Street apartment, where he is alleged to have stolen the gun that was later used to kill Jackson.
The defense is also questioning the demographics of the jury, since a disproportionate grand jury can be ruled a violation of the defendants constitutional rights. District Attorney Julia Slater questioned about the makeup of the panel that indicted Strozier and was told it was a panel of 11 white men, six black women and one white woman.
The proceedings are set to resume at 9:00 a.m. Tuesday and hear pretrial motions through Wednesday. Then there will be another session for motions held February 20 though the 22nd.