The California Supreme Court on Wednesday said the public should have access to a transcript from a grand jury hearing in the case against a Stockton man accused of killing a California Highway Patrol officer last year.
Among the highlights from the 547-page document:
- Officer Earl Scott’s flashlight was on, his nose and mouth were full of blood, his hands were up and he had no pulse when fellow Officer John Chituras found him lying at the side of Highway 99, just south of Hammett Road, on Feb. 17, 2006.
- Columbus Allen Jr. II, the man accused of shooting Scott once in the face, had written rap music lyrics that talked about killing cops.
- And the authorities found particles consistent with gunshot residue on Allen’s hands and clothes, and also on the front passenger seat and door frame of a 1990 Nissan Maxima belonging to Allen’s wife.
Stanislaus County prosecutors presented evidence privately to a grand jury during a three-day hearing in June. The grand jury indicted Allen on June 19.
By law, transcripts of grand jury proceedings become public 10 days after they are delivered to the defense.
Allen’s attorneys argued that their client would not get a fair trial if the media were given access to the transcript because the defense was not allowed to challenge the evidence prosecutors presented to the grand jury.
The Bee argued that the court could seat 12 impartial jurors when Allen’s case goes to trial in March, even if the public knows the basis for his detention.
In most cases, defendants are held for trial after a preliminary hearing where prosecutors lay out their case in a public forum. The district attorney’s office took its case to the grand jury, something that rarely happens in Stanislaus County, after setting and resetting the preliminary hearing six times.
Allen, 32, has been held without bail since hours after Scott’s death. He is charged with first-degree murder, using a firearm in the commission of a crime and three special circumstances that could lead to the death penalty.