In 2005, Jamal Marsh was accused of fatally shooting Ricky Scott White in the mouth with a .38-caliber handgun.
More than two years later, the case went to trial with defense attorney Parke Masterson maintaining that he was not ready.
“I’m not even close to being ready in this case,” Mr. Masterson said.
Nevertheless, Criminal Court Judge Rebecca Stern ordered the case to trial “ready or not.”
Officials said this case is an example of a defense lawyer stalling and trying to cause unneccessary delays, but Mr. Masterson said there were legitimate reasons for not being prepared.
“What nobody is talking about is that since the last trial date, prosecutors filed a new witness list that added the number of witnesses,” he said.
Mr. Masterson said there also was TBI lab reports and other evidence that were not turned over to the defense until late.
Being forced to trial without being ready certainly will be an issue for appeal, Mr. Masterson said.
Records show the case initially was set for trial June 5, 2007, but it was postponed at Mr. Masterson’s request until Nov. 13, 2007. That date was further postponed until Tuesday, dispite objections by prosecutors.
While requesting the most recent delay, Mr. Masterson told Judge Stern he had requested information from Hamilton County Emergency Medical Services and Chattanooga 911 but has not received it.
“I’m not necessarily buying all that, but he’s obviously not ready for trial,” Judge Stern told prosecutors when they protested Mr. Masterson’s reasons for needing a delay. “If I force this case to go to trial, it will be reversed for ineffective assistance of counsel, and we will have to try it again in a year from now.”
Judge Stern then set status dates every two weeks for Mr. Masterson to update her on how the case was progressing.
Assistant District Attorney Boyd Patterson told Judge Stern that all discovery evidence was turned over to Mr. Masterson in a timely manner.
According to court records, Mr. Marsh told police that he shot Mr. White in the mouth in self-defense. He claimed Mr. White threatened him with a knife after he “disrespected” Mr. Marsh’s girlfriend.