Ward's trial start hinges on report

By Patsy R. Brumfield/NEMS Daily Journal

TUPELO – Thomas J. Ward’s depraved heart murder trial may not begin Monday for lack of time to study one expert witness’ report.
Ward, 24, of Saltillo is set to go on trial in the 2010 shooting death of 20-year-old Anna Catherine McCoy.
But Monday, Circuit Judge James L. Roberts Jr. said the defense and prosecutors may not have enough time to prepare to deal with whatever information they are waiting on.
“Last May, when we continued this trial to August, some people thought it might not be enough time,” the judge said during a hearing on pre-trial motions.
He’s set a hearing for Wednesday morning to determine if the report’s been received and whether each side has enough time to work with it.
“Hopefully, we’ll see some progress between now and then,” Roberts noted.
The report is coming from a defense expert, possibly about firearms, courtroom conversations revealed.
When the District Attorney’s Office receives the report, it then must have time for its own expert to study it and be prepared to testify about it.
Roberts said it’s no one’s fault the report has yet to arrive.
Ward’s attorney, Victor Fleitas of Tupelo, said he hoped to know more about its arrival soon.
McCoy was fatally shot at Ward’s home in April 2010.
Ward insists he is innocent of the charge, which is defined as a callous disregard for human life that results in death.
If convicted, he faces sentences of life without possibility of parole or death.
Because there apparently are no other witnesses to McCoy’s death, prosecutors must rely heavily on the forensic evidence in the case.
The expert witnesses will present that evidence or rebut it for the jury to consider its verdict.
patsy.brumfield@journalinc.com