The COVID-19 crisis has left a number of cases at a standstill and with the extension of the public health emergency for another month, the court is pushing forward to turn the wheels of justice.
On Tuesday morning, the case involving the rape and murder of 15-year old Timicca Nauta was brought back before the court to determine how the case will move forward with trial.
Brandon Michael Acosta was in the midst of trial for the rape and murder of 15-year-old Timmica Nauta. At the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, the government rested its case but trial was still days away from closing arguments and jury deliberations.
The court even ruled on a motion for acquittal denying the defense’s request, determining that the matter should go before the jury.
Before the court can resume trial, Superior Court Judge Vernon Perez says that refreshing the jurors’ memories regarding testimony and exhibits will take about three to four days or 18 hours.
But the first step is getting the jurors to report to court for duty.
“Your honor I know my client wants to move forward and the court wants to move forward. I did notice that we can’t find one of the jurors,” Acosta’s defense attorney, William Pole, said.
“We are aware one of the jurors has either changed contact information, Juror 9 … we will keep up efforts in making contact with that one juror,” Judge Vernon Perez said.
Apart from getting the jurors to report to the court, Perez says he will also be asking each juror whether they were exposed to any media reports pertaining to the case and whether they have any challenges related to serving on the jury.
“And what’s fortunate is we still have alternates if they need to be used. But at this point, the court wants to go forward as if we really didn’t have a break. But for the obvious questions, we will ask,” Perez said.
Jurors in the Acosta trial will report on Thursday, July 2, to answer the court’s questions. Playback of testimony will begin early next week.