Motions in Greenhouse case set for Sept. 28
Sun, 08/14/2016 - 05:00
Includes motion asking if witnesses were hypnotized
Raymond L. Daye
Six motions filed in the murder trial of Norris Greenhouse Jr. -- including one seeking to know whether witnesses have been hypnotized -- will be heard in 12th Judicial District Court on Sept. 28.
Pineville attorney George Higgins III filed the motions on Aug. 9. District Judge William “Billy” Bennett signed the motions and scheduled the hearings.
Greenhouse and Derrick Stafford are facing 2nd-degree murder charges in the death of 6-year-old Jeremy Mardis and attempted 2nd-degree murder of his father, Christopher Few, following a traffic stop on Nov. 3, 2015. Both have pled not guilty to the charges.
Stafford’s trial is set for Nov. 28, after being moved from a September trial date. Greenhouse had been scheduled for trial on Nov. 28, but a new date has not been set.
Both men were full-time law enforcement officers who were moonlighting as part-time Marksville City Marshal’s Office deputies at the time of the shooting incident.
In addition to the motion for “disclosure of hypnosis and the use and results of truth-determining examinations,” Higgins filed more routine motions, including:
-- Requesting that potential jurors be individually questioned during the selection process.
-- Requesting that the defense be allowed to examine tape-recorded evidence and transcripts to determine their accuracy.
-- Requesting disclosure of medical history and medical examination records of prosecution witnesses, with such information to be filed with the court “under seal” to protect the individuals’ confidential information.
-- Requesting disclosure of mental health history and examination records of prosecution witnesses, with such information to be filed with the court “under seal” to protect the individuals’ confidential information. The motion also asks the judge to order that Few “undergo psychiatric and other truth-determining examinations conducted by qualified experts employed by the defense.”
-- Requesting ability to inspect, examine and test physical evidence in the case, including clothing of all parties involved in the incident, all weapons taken from Greenhouse’s “person, home, vehicle and the scene of the alleged crime,” all fingerprints, all notes taken by state as part of the evidence in the case, all blood samples taken from the scene, all photographs taken in connection with the incident, all electronic evidence of any kind and all other physical evidence.
Higgins also filed a “reservation of right to file additional motions” at a later date.
The motion that has attracted the most media attention, because it is not a routine motion, is the one asking for information on the use of hypnosis.
The motion does not make any direct allegations that hypnosis or other “truth-determining examinations” -- such as sodium pentothal (truth serum) or lie-detector tests -- were used in the investigation. Higgins claims the defense needs to know if hypnosis was used because it would then have to hire an expert witness to dispute the reliability and credibility of the witness’ testimony.
A spokesperson for the Attorney General’s Office said the AG “will address the motion,” but would not state whether hypnosis or any other “truth-determining examination” had been utilized in the investigation and preparation of the state’s case.
The AG’s Office is handling the prosecution of both Greenhouse and Stafford because the Avoyelles District Attorney’s Office recused itself due to Greenhouse’s father is an assistant district attorney.
In his motion, Higgins notes that the use of hypnosis has become more common in investigations, despite questions on its reliability and arguments that it can potentially taint testimony by implanting “memories” while a witness is in the hypnotic state.
"Under hypnosis, an interpretive difficulty arises because of the hypnotized person's extreme suggestibility which enables him to detect meanings in the expert's questions which are unintended and unrecognized by the expert himself," Higgins contends in the motion.
The death of Jeremy Mardis attracted national and international news coverage. It is also the first high-profile case in which the recently purchased body cameras for Marksville Police are expected to play a crucial role.
State Police reported that a body camera worn by MPD Sgt. Kenneth Parnell, who arrived at the scene shortly after Few’s car was stopped, recorded the incident.
Investigators said the video shows Few’s empty hands raised in the car and then shots are heard as the officers fired into the vehicle.
Few’s son was seat-belted in the front seat next to him. The child was killed at the scene and Few was critically wounded. He spent several days in a hospital ICU.
The body camera video has not been made available to the press or public.