Betty Shelby Asks For New Preliminary Hearing In Terence Crutcher Shooting
TULSA, Oklahoma - Attorneys for Tulsa police officer Betty Shelby asked a judge to grant her a new preliminary hearing, if he won't drop the charge against her.
A judge ruled in late November that Shelby would have to stand trial after shooting and killing Terence Crutcher near 36th Street North and Lewis on September 16, 2016.
Shelby's attorney said Crutcher didn't follow her commands and she feared for her life, leading to her shooting him. She was charged with first-degree manslaughter/heat of passion on September 22, 2016.
On Wednesday, January 11, 2017, Shelby's attorneys filed a motion asking the judge to drop the charge against her, citing insufficient evidence.
If the judge won't grant that motion, the attorneys ask the judge to quash the order for her to stand trial in the case and asked for a new preliminary hearing.
they argue Tulsa Police Homicide Sergeant Dave Walker, who was assigned to investigate the case internally, interviewed Shelby three days after the shooting.
She was emotional in that interview, and her attorneys said that was used against her to support the first-degree manslaughter-heat-of-passion charge.
The defense claims that interview is not relevant because it was conducted several days after the incident.
The defense also claims District Attorney Steve Kunzweiler charged Shelby with manslaughter before Walker completed his investigation.
They believe Walker did not find enough evidence to justify that charge and claim Walker even told Kunzweiler over the phone this was a, “unwinnable case.”
Walker said he has not yet read the motions and has no comment.
Kunzweiler said he believes there is sufficient evidence to make Shelby stand trial and released a statement saying:
“Certainly Officer Shelby enjoys the presumption of innocence as all citizens who are charged with a crime. That presumption remains with her until and unless a judge or a jury determines otherwise.
“A preliminary hearing was held before Judge Martha Rupert-Carter and she determined there was sufficient evidence to bind Officer Shelby over for trial. We agree with her determination and we will urge the District Court to concur with her ruling.
“Every case which is presented to the District Attorney's Office should be evaluated on the evidence and circumstances specific to its particular fact situation. It is improper to compare one case evaluation to another - especially when the alleged facts are not the same.”
Shelby is still suspended from the department without pay.
Another hearing is set for February 1, where the judge is expected to set a trial date.