A Mahoning County Common Pleas judge ordered a copy of grand jury witness testimony to be made and kept under seal in the case of a 21-year-old man accused of killing an 8-year-old boy.
Shawn Wilson is charged in the Aug. 20 shooting death of Bryce Linebaugh, who was killed as he slept in his family’s East Side home. If convicted, Wilson faces the death penalty.
With tissues balled in his hands, Wilson appeared before Judge R. Scott Krichbaum on Wednesday. Wilson entered the courtroom with quiet tears, but unlike his last hearing, he didn’t shed any more during the proceedings.
Attys. Edward Hartwig and Ronald Yarwood, representing Wilson, asked the court for a transcription of grand jury witness testimony so that if the same witnesses testify during the trial, the defense can know of any possible impeachment — should witnesses change their testimony.
By law, grand jury proceedings are secret.
The judge said he would never grant access to an entire grand jury transcription that would include the names and addresses of jurors and he had said that he was not going to allow the transcription without demonstration of a particular need.
Assistant county Prosecutor Rebecca Doherty argued that there was not a specific need for the transcript.
Judge Krichbaum ordered a single copy of grand jury witness testimony to be produced and delivered to the court, where it will be kept under seal until the trial.
The judge said if any of the witnesses who testified in the grand jury testify during the trial, the court will review the transcript and if it finds “substantial inconsistencies” in the testimony, it will give the prosecution and defense access to it.
The judge said the U.S. Supreme Court and the Ohio Supreme Court have declared that a defendant “whose life is sought by the government” is entitled to a “heightened degree of due process.”
“We’re talking about someone’s liberty and in this case, someone’s life,” the judge said.
He added that he would rather have the copy made now instead of delaying the trial if it is needed later.
Wilson did not speak during the hearing. He will be back in court Nov. 7, and his trial is scheduled for Jan. 14.