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State's continuance request in Bates case denied

Posted at 6:38 PM, Apr 11, 2016
and last updated 2016-04-12 13:38:08-04

TULSA - Prosecutors in the second-degree manslaughter case against former volunteer deputy Robert Bates were denied a continuance by Judge Bill Musseman after they filed a motion to delay the trial, which was set to begin on April 18.

The motion filed in district court on Monday requested the continuance in order to allow the district attorney's office more time to review 2,447 pages of documents provided by Bates' defense attorneys on April 8. State law requires that all discovery be completed 10 days prior to trial.

According to the motion, prosecutors prepared for the trial for three months with no notice from Bates' defense that they would attack the cause of Eric Harris' death. 

Judge Musseman said Tuesday that he disagrees with the argument saying the cause of Eric Harris’ death has been publicly discussed, even in the media, since it occurred.

The state filed an objection last week to several of Bates' witnesses, including some medical experts.

Prosecutors said one physician's testimony "regarding the psycho-neurological effects of stress on cognitive decision making and human performance under stress" is irrelevant.

Prosecutors objected to another physician set to testify "regarding the medical condition of Eric Harris before and after the gunshot wound ... and the medical factors that contributed to and caused Mr. Harris' death," saying the defense failed to provide an alternate cause of death in the discovery process.

Musseman went on to say that the discovery process was properly played out and since then he’s worked to just manage it and not control the process. He also stated that time could be carved out for the state to meet with defense's expert witnesses during the trial -- but when and how that would occur is still up in the air.

SPECIAL SECTION: Robert Bates and Tulsa County Sheriff’s Office investigation

Another defense witness, a radiologist, will testify about diagnostic exams of Harris' body and "offer opinions on how these records pertain to Mr. Harris' medical diagnoses and cause of death." Prosecutors objected to the witness on the grounds the defense did not identify an alternate cause of death in the discovery process.

A medical examiner's report in May identified Harris' cause of death as a gunshot wound of the right axilla and the manner of death as homicide.

Bates admitted to confusing his gun with his Taser during an undercover operation last April. Deputies set up a sting to purchase a firearm after Harris sold them methamphetamine. Body camera video showed Harris being subdued by deputies when a gunshot can be heard. Shortly after the shot, Bates can be heard saying, "Oh, I shot him. I'm sorry."

Musseman also denied another motion by the state, which would have introduced other instances in which Bates used his Taser while on duty with the Tulsa County Sheriff's Office as a reserve deputy.

Bates has pleaded not guilty to second-degree manslaughter in Harris' death.

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