Trial for murder suspect convicted in Cook's court continued; Self defense will be pleaded Sept. 8

By The Madison County Record | Apr 24, 2014


William Cosby, who won a new murder trial because heroin addict Michael Cook presided over his conviction, has won extra time to prepare his defense.

St. Clair County Circuit Judge Robert Haida, who had planned to start the trial on April 21, continued it without a date at a hearing on April 17.

At a scheduling conference on April 23, Haida set the trial to start on Sept. 8.

Cosby intends to plead that he shot Antwan Thomas in self defense, a position he did not take in his first trial.

Jurors in Cook’s court convicted Cosby of murder last April.

On May 7, drug agents arrested East St. Louis detective Orlando Ward, who had helped prepare the case against Cosby.

Cosby’s public defender, Charles Baricevic, moved for a new trial on May 15.

He wrote that the state didn’t prove its case, the prosecution’s closing argument inflamed the jury, and Ward’s conduct prejudiced Cosby.

“It is unclear whether or not Detective Ward allowed his alleged criminal activity to influence parts of the investigation,” Baricevic wrote.

Drug agents arrested Cook on May 21.

Chief Judge John Baricevic, father of Cosby’s lawyer, assigned Cosby’s case to Haida.

Cosby asked Haida for a new lawyer in August, writing that Charles Baricevic refused to file a motion for a new trial on the basis of Cook’s addiction.

Baricevic then filed the motion Cosby wanted, and Haida granted it in October.

In December, Cosby again asked for a new lawyer. He wrote that Baricevic would not argue self defense and would not communicate with his family.

Haida denied Cosby’s request, but public defender Lloyd Cueto then entered his appearance as Baricevic’s assistant.

In February, Cueto notified Haida that Cosby would plead self defense.

As of April 17, four days before the scheduled start of the trial, Baricevic had not moved to continue it.

On that date, without notice to Cosby’s family or the public, Haida held a hearing with Baricevic and prosecutor Deb Phillips.

After the hearing, Haida signed an order that, “By agreement of the parties, due to unavailability of witnesses, jury trial of April 21, 2014, is hereby vacated.”

Cosby’s family and friends appeared for the scheduling conference six days later.

Haida announced the trial date, and asked if anyone needed to raise any issues.

Phillips said Cosby’s associates had approached some of the people’s witnesses. She asked Haida to admonish Cosby not to contact witnesses.

Haida said this came up previously and he spoke to Cosby about it.

He asked Phillips if there was any information that Cosby was involved in the contacts, and Phillips said no.

Haida said to Cosby, “I am not accusing you of anything.” He asked Cosby to encourage those who support him not to harass or communicate with witnesses.

He asked Cosby if he understood. Cosby said, “Yes sir.”

Former detective Ward has pleaded guilty to drug distribution charges, and he awaits sentencing before U.S. District Judge Michael Reagan.

Phillips listed Ward as a witness for the people in January, but his name disappeared from an amended list she filed a few days later.

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