Lee County jury trials resume in September as pandemic slows wheels of justice

Alabama News

LEE COUNTY, Ala. (WRBL) – Pandemic precautions are slowing down the wheels of justice all across our nation. News 3 spoke with Lee Count’s District Attorney about this unprecedented time within the court system as he updates us on the status of several high profile cases.

Lee County District Attorney Brandon Hughes hasn’t had a jury trial since March.

“It’s had a pretty large impact. We were very delayed in our second grand jury, which we just completed this week. We knew it was important to have people needed to get their cases moving. We have not been able to tri any cases since this whole thing shut down. We are woefully behind on jury trials. We have been taking guilty pleas and bond issues any constitutional issues we have been able to handle,” explained Hughes.

This week a grand jury indicted 17-year-old Ross McFarland for the October murder of 66-year-old Martha White in Auburn. The teen remains behind bars on no bond.

The Attorney for Johnston Taylor, indicted on two counts of manslaughter in the May 25th deaths of Rod and Paula Bramblett during an Auburn traffic crash, has filed for Youthful Offender status. A hearing has been set for a Lee County Judge to decide. Hughes says Taylor is out on bond after completing a rehabilitation program after his bail was revoked for receiving additional traffic citations while he was out on bond in the Bramblett case.

“He is out on bond, and we are closely monitoring him,” shared Hughes.

A grand jury has yet to consider indictment in the Capital Murder case involving Ibraheem Yazeeed who is accused of kidnapping and killing Aniah Blanchard in Auburn last year.

Hughes says the virus has slowed the wheels of justice down for victims and their families.

“I wish it would move faster, and they wish it would move faster. We are going as fast as we can, and we are trying to be smart about it,” said Hughes.

Hughes hopes jury trials will resume back in September. What trials will look like in terms of masking and social distancing remains to be seen. Hughes does expect the end of this year to be full throttle with court systems across the country catching up on their trial dockets.

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