Kodiak Daily Mirror - Waite criminal trial on hold until fall
  
Waite criminal trial on hold until fall
by Peter J Mladineo
May 19, 2014 | 611 views | 0 0 comments | 17 17 recommendations | email to a friend | print
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Alaska Superior Court Judge Steve Cole delayed the criminal trial of Skyler Waite to make room for a late expert witness addition by the defense.

Waite’s jury trial was scheduled to begin last week, but after the defense added a new expert witness, the judge allowed the case to be continued to Oct. 22.

The Waite case, made famous by a viral YouTube video showing her arrest by Alaska State Troopers on April 29, 2013, involves criminal charges against Waite for assaulting a police officer, resisting arrest and disorderly conduct.

Meanwhile, Waite, who is also suing the arresting troopers Brian Mitchell and Boyd Branch, will press forward in that case.

“We’re proceeding forward on the civil case … We’ll be filing some motions in the near-future,” said William Pickett, Waite’s Yakima, Wash.-based civil attorney.

Pickett previously maintained that the civil case was waiting to see how the criminal case was decided, but now has opted to pursue it before the criminal trial concludes.

“The criminal case will be well a year now before they ever get to trial on that,” he said.

The defense’s expert witness is Rod Light, a former police captain who will likely testify about police practices.

“Based upon my training and experience along with the careful evaluation of the totality of circumstances in this matter, it’s my considered opinion that Waite was subjected to unreasonable police conduct, excessive use of force, unlawful arrest and assault by Troopers Mitchell and Branch,” Light wrote in a document filed to the court.

The defense’s use of this witness represents a change in strategy by because of the shootings of Alaska State Troopers in Tanana.

“Despite counsel’s very real concerns about the ‘appearance’ of producing an expert on police practices, the undersigned is even more concerned about the impact of public sympathy following the Tanana shooting,” according to a motion filed by Waite’s public defender Michael Barber.

The defense hopes an expert witness from law enforcement echelons can reduce the impact of public sympathy for law enforcement in the wake of the shootings of two troopers in Tanana.

“(Waite) hopes that by presenting an expert closely connected with law enforcement and law enforcement policy and procedure she can discuss the troopers’ conduct in the current matter without appearing to launch an ill-timed or unfair attack on law enforcement by outsiders,” the defense statement says.

During the latest hearing on May 13, the court and the lawyers expressed concerns about the amount of pretrial publicity this case has received, citing possible problems with jury selection and other issues.

Contact Peter J. Mladineo at editor@kodiakdailymirror.com.
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