Jerry Raney's Preliminary Hearing Resumes

Wednesday, May 27th 2009, 7:59 am
By: News On 6

By Jeffrey Smith, The News On 6

MUSKOGEE, OK -- The longest preliminary hearing in Muskogee County history is still ongoing.

Wednesday was the 17th day of preliminary hearing for a man charged with murdering his stepdaughter three years ago.

The case is putting a big burden on the district attorney's office. Court reporter Shannon Flores has already typed up 1,400 pages of witness testimony, and she has 1,400 pages to go.

"I have put in 12 to 15 hours a day on this one case," Flores said.

There will be about 3,000 pages of testimony from Jerry Raney's preliminary hearing, which determines whether there's enough evidence for a jury trial.

"I work sometimes Saturdays and Sunday afternoons, and so it does require extra time," Muskogee County District Attorney Larry Moore said.

Raney is charged with strangling his 19-year-old stepdaughter, Sara Smart, and stuffing her body in a barrell.

Thirty-two witnesses took the stand, and the judge hasn't ruled whether there is enough evidence.

District attorneys in other counties say even for a murder charge, a prelim will last about three days.

"There are other cases I would like to devote more time to, that I'm not able to do so, because of the case," Moore said. "Anywhere from law enforcement personnel I regularly meet with, to victims of crimes, to witnesses."

Moore has five legal assistants, plus his assistant attorney, working to prepare this case log.

"You have to work nights or weekends or holidays, like I just worked the last three days," Flores said. "I didn't take my holiday. I worked."

Family members of the teenage victim ay they've grown disillusioned with the justice system.

"It has been very frustrating," said Christine Smart-Leader, Sara Smart's stepmom. "It's been difficult to come down here each time, not knowing what to expect."

Raney is due back in court in July, extending the hearing to its fifth month. Leader says she's hopeful that Day 18 will be the last one.

4/24/2009 Related story: Day 12 Of Jerry Raney's Preliminary Hearing