Prosecutors are objecting to plans by Robert Bates’ defense attorneys to present testimony on the victim’s criminal history and whether the bullet Bates accidentally fired was the actual cause of death, records show.
Bates was in court Wednesday for a discovery hearing for his upcoming trial on second-degree manslaughter in the April 2, 2015 death of Eric Harris. Bates was serving as a volunteer Tulsa County Sheriff’s Office reserve deputy when he shot and killed Harris during an undercover operation.
Harris was already on the ground and subdued by several officers at the time Bates shot him. Bates, a 74-year-old insurance executive, said he intended to use his Taser and accidentally shot Harris instead.
During the hearing Wednesday, Assistant District Attorney John David Luton told a judge that Bates’ attorneys had not provided enough information about what their expert witnesses will say. Among more than 40 witnesses the defense has listed are six medical experts, Harris’ brother Andre and an assistant Tulsa County district attorney identified only by his initials.
“There is no substantive dispute between the State and the Defendant that the victim had a criminal history, information that is relevant to this case,” District Attorney Steve Kunzweiler states in a motion filed Tuesday.
“Beyond that, however, any evidence of the victim’s ‘character and reputation’ is irrelevant and should not be admissible.”
The motion also objects to defense plans to call an assistant district attorney who briefed the Tulsa County drug task force before the ill-fated undercover sting.
“How and why this undercover operation was put together is not for the jury to determine, nor is it for the jury to determine whether the operation was necessary. Introducing this testimony to the jury will only serve to confuse the jury as to its ultimate duty, to determine whether or not the defendant’s conduct on April 2, 2015 was culpably negligent.”
Though Luton claimed defense attorneys had not provided enough information about six medical experts the defense plans to call, District Judge Bill Musseman overruled those objections. Musseman said the defense had provided sufficient information on its experts to meet legal requirements.
The motion filed by the state objects to eight defense witnesses and a long list of defense exhibits. The witnesses include Harris’ brother, Andre Harris, who, according to the motion, will be expected to testify “regarding his relationship with his brother and his brother’s character and reputation,” which “is not admissible.”
Another witness the state is objecting to is an assistant district attorney, identified in the motion only by the initials “I.S.,” who briefed the sheriff’s office’s Drug Task Force prior to the raid that claimed Eric Harris’ life.
Other witnesses objected to
- Gregory Meyer – Meyer is expected to testify “regarding police tactics and use of force issues.” The state claims in the motion that they have “no knowledge” of if Meyer may propose a theory such as “slips and capture.” The “slips and capture” defense is a hallmark of the Force Science Institute from where Meyer “claims his credential,” according to the motion. The state claims they have not received a summary of Meyer’s proposed testimony.
- Dr. Charles Morgan – Morgan is expected to testify to the “psycho-neurological effects of stress on cognitive decision-making and human performance under stress,” as well as the “physiological and psychological effects of methamphetamine use.” The sheriff’s office claimed following the shooting that Harris was under the effects of PCP at the time of the shooting, but the autopsy results listed on small amounts of methamphetamine in his system at the time he was killed.
- Dr. Mark A. Brandenburg – Brandenburg, the motion states, is expected to testify to an undisclosed “medical condition” Harris suffered from prior to the shooting that the defense believes may have played more of a role in his death than the gunshot.
- Dr. Robert A Skib – Skib, according to the motion, will testify to “the radiology records of Eric Harris and offer opinions in how those records pertain to Mr. Harris’ medical diagnoses and cause of death.” The state claims “no such opinions” have been identified by the defense in discovery materials.
- Dr. John L. Farber – Farber, like Skib, is expected to testify to medical documents the state claims they have not received in discovery.
- Dr. James Higgins – Higgins, like Farber and Skib, is expected to testify to medical documents the state claims they have not received in discovery.