The much anticipated trial of Demeatrius Montgomery took an un-expected left turn before it even started today as Judge Forrest Bridges ruled that Montgomery should not face the death penalty. His basis was a detective’s misconduct during the investigation.
The trial will continue but the judge found the investigator's mishandling of evidence in the case serious enough to take the death penalty off the table.
"The officer in question admitted being untruthful in meetings and in violation of police procedures," Bridges said. He added that the issue of Fants notes "questions the integrity of the trial." - Judge Forrest Bridges
Bridges had the option to dismiss the case, post-pone it, create sanctions, or allow it to move forward. He chose only to remove the capital punishment aspect.
"Dismissal would be excessive," Bridges said at one point as he announced his decision.
According to the Charlotte Observer and WSOC TV, Chief Monroe who has been in and out of the courtroom for the last two days stated that Fant has been placed on administrative leave and is under investigation.
"Let me just start off by saying I was disappointed, both personally and professionally, in the fact that we lost the ability to seek the death penalty in this particular case," said Monroe. "First and foremost, we have lost two great officers in a very cold-blooded manner in which I believe the individual responsible for those officers' death warranted the death penalty."
According to the Observer Fant, a former homicide detective was reassigned to patrol over the weekend.
Montgomery’s lawyers argued that Fant’s actions violated N.C. laws that require sharing of evidence before a trial. Fant’s revelation Tuesday, they said, indicates such disorganization and disregard for evidence rules that the whole investigation is tainted.
Cedar's Point of View:
Clearly Chief Monroe is guilty of failure to command and supervise.
Second Fant while clearly at fault is not the first detective to lose a file or two. It is doubtful he did it deliberately so why the posturing by the chief?
So why have the missing notes been such a secret? Who else knew of this problem?
Someone knew this was an issue, or no one in homicide or the DA's office was doing their homework. Was Fant just hoping this day would never come and no one would find out, or are there more players behind the scenes? This wouldn't be the first time Chief Monroe found a goat to throw under the bus.
Finally could it be that Judge Bridges is against the death penalty? There is nothing out there to suggest Bridges is a anti-death penalty supporter, while at the same time there is nothing to say he supports the idea.
Perhaps he has made his position public in the past, if not maybe he just saw an opening and used his authority to move the case along and keep himself out of the hot seat of a death penalty case.
Can justice be served without the death penalty?
I personally don't think so, but the Chief's suggestion that the DA's office appeal the judges decision is just more posturing.
One more thing, you would think that with all the taxpayer money Monroe spent on his uniform he would at least wear the damn jacket to court.
Cedar Posts Extra:
The Meck Deck's Jeff Taylor offers up some detailed insight as to what went on prior to yesterday's removal of the death penalty here.