The trial of a Partridge man accused of rape, sexual abuse and criminal abuse has been postponed. James Ferguson, 24, appeared in Harlan Circuit Court on Tuesday to stand trial on charges related to the sexual abuse of a minor.
This is the second trial for Ferguson on these charges. A jury found Ferguson guilty about fourteen months ago, but a mistrial was declared.
Previous reports state Judge James Bowling presided over the first trial.
“On this rape case, I don’t know. This has been a troubling case to preside over for me, because this conviction has basically been obtained with evidence that the jury never should have been able to hear. It came from a biased witness, but the court ruled that the floor was open. That ruling might be in error,” said Bowling after releasing the jury following the verdict.
The new trial did not begin because there were not enough circuit court jurors in attendance.
Judge Marc Rosen considered sending for more jurors from the district court pool, but defense attorney Linda West objected. West argued the attorneys had not prepared for the inclusion of district court jurors.
Rosen upheld the objection, stating that if they proceeded to trial and the case eventually was appealed, there would be a chance it could overturned.
“I don’t want to waste my time, and I certainly don’t want to waste your time,” Rosen told the jury before dismissing them for the day.
Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Karen Davenport is handling the case for the state. She pointed out after court that only 29 circuit court jurors had shown up, and the minimum amount of jurors required before starting a trial is 32.
After dismissing the jurors the court took care of some preliminary matters, including a motion made by West to exclude the testimony of Tracey Miller, a social worker involved in the case, from being heard at trial.
According to previous reports, Miller’s testimony was key to the prosecution’s case in the previous trial.
After hearing arguments from West and Davenport, Rosen ruled Miller would be allowed to testify.
The court also held a competency hearing to determine if the victim, who is now between 6 and 7 years of age, would be allowed to testify at trial. Rosen did not make a decision at this time, saying he was first going to review Bowling’s decision on the issue from the previous trial.
After setting a new trial date of June 11 and 12, Rosen adjourned court.
Ferguson is charged with first-degree rape of a child under 12, first-degree criminal abuse of a child under 12 and first-degree sexual abuse of a child under 12.
In other court activity, Randy Hammons, 24, of Cumberland, made an appearance in district court on Monday. Hammons appeared on charges of attempted murder, possession of marijuana and first-degree criminal abuse.
Hammons is accused of placing a 3-year-old child in a deep freezer and holding the lid closed. Hammons also allegedly struck the child, leaving bruises and marks on the child.
Hammons was bound over for the grand jury and his bond raised to $50,000 full cash.
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