CINCINNATI – Two mothers consoled each other in an Ohio courtroom Friday as legal proceedings played out in the racially charged murder case against a white former police officer for the death of an unarmed black man.
Former University of Cincinnati police officer Ray Tensing is on trial a second time after a jury deadlocked in November. Tensing, 27, has said he feared for his life when Sam DuBose, 43, tried to drive away from a 2015 traffic stop.
The judge has restricted media access to the proceedings, but a Cincinnati Enquirer reporter who was among a handful of journalists allowed in the courtroom said a dramatic moment came when Tensing's mother approached DuBose's, to say: "I'm sorry for your loss ... I'm so sorry." The two women then embraced.
Jury selection is to continue Monday with more than 100 prospective jurors.
Earlier, Tensing's lawyer agreed with a previous prosecution request that the retrial be moved out of Cincinnati.
"The circus-like atmosphere surrounding this case is out of control," attorney Stewart Mathews said just before prospective jurors were brought into the courtroom Friday.
Judge Leslie Ghiz acknowledged Mathews' concerns, calling news media behavior in the case "offensive" and warning she wouldn't tolerate any interference with the defendant's right to a fair trial. But she deferred ruling on the change of venue request to allow for jury selection to continue.
She also rejected a defense motion to dismiss the charges.
Jury selection was halted Tuesday because of an ongoing legal dispute with news media organizations, including The Associated Press, over restrictions imposed by the judge.
An appeals court last week blocked Ghiz's original order on media access, such as limiting the number of reporters and use of cellphones and other electronic devices. And Ghiz held a hearing Thursday on the issue.
Afterward, she issued a revised order that relaxed some restrictions and retained others. She also denied a media request for completed juror questionnaires, which include questions on racial attitudes and dealing with police.
Ghiz on Friday said she will release the completed questionnaires, with names and other personal identifying information redacted, after the trial.
During the hearing Thursday, Ghiz said many prospective jurors were concerned about their safety if their identities become public.
News media attorney Jack Greiner filed a challenge Friday with a state appeals court, saying the new order violates First Amendment freedoms.
This story has been corrected to show Mathews said "circus-like," not "circus."
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