A four-day, March 2013 trial has been scheduled for a defendant in a February 2011 shooting near Camden.
Pending further delay in what has been a slow-moving case, Jerry Nail would be tried March 25-28 on three felony charges – first-degree assault, discharging a firearm from a motor vehicle, both A felonies, and armed criminal action, an unclassified felony.
Investigators allege that Nail shot Jeffrey Merriman four times on Feb. 16, 2011 in front of Merriman’s home on Highway T. It’s widely believed that the shooting, on Super Bowl Sunday, stemmed from a dispute over payment for a vehicle that Nail sold to a Merriman relative.
Merriman was taken to North Kansas City Hospital intensive care, but was released the next day, leading to speculation that he was shot with a BB or pellet gun. The nature of the weapon is significant because, under Missouri law, BB or pellet guns aren’t defined as deadly weapons.
Stanley Thompson, Nail’s Richmond attorney, has maintained that the identity of the gun could lessen the severity of one or more of the charges against his client.
Thompson and the prosecutor’s office have engaged in a long-running dispute over discovery – his interest in seeing what evidence the prosecution has in its possession.
The two sides have disagreed over what has been provided – or should be – and what hasn’t, and last Thursday the dispute focused on the firearm Thompson believes the prosecution can produce.
“The discovery’s been pending for 15 months,” Thompson said to Judge Kevin Walden, who is hearing the case. “It’s the same thing I say every time I’m up here.”
Thompson argued that he didn’t want a trial date set until he’s satisfied that all evidence and a list of expert witnesses have been made available to him.
“If there are going to be expert witnesses endorsed or material objects introduced as evidence, then I would need to file a continuance,” he said.
Assistant Prosecutor Sarah Hartley said her office routinely complies with discovery requests that are made in writing. Thompson said his request was submitted in written form on June 23, 2011.
“Our usual procedure is to send over everything that’s in our file,” Hartley said.
Eager to move the case forward, however, without further delay, Walden scheduled the trial, a Feb. 15, 2013 pretrial conference and a Feb. 6 deadline for submitting any pre-trial motions.
“We’ll start with the premise that the state has provided everything in his possession,” the judge said.
Hartley responded to Thompson’s concerns about the weapon and any expert witness the prosecution might use.
“One of the charges is use of a deadly weapon, (so) there would need to be an expert witness,” she said.
Walden suggested that the weapon should be made available for Thompson’s inspection.
“If he wants to examine or test it, then the state is going to have to facilitate that,” he said.
The weapon apparently is in the possession of a police agency. Last week, Thompson referred to it as being stored “in the bag.”