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Judge Delays Trial Date in Denny Case to April 12

TIMES STAFF WRITER

A judge hearing the case of three men charged in the assault on trucker Reginald O. Denny during last year’s riots on Thursday pushed back the start of the trial to April 12, the second delay granted in six days at the request of defense attorneys.

Superior Court Judge John W. Ouderkirk said he reread arguments in a defense motion for an additional delay and was persuaded that postponing the start of the trial would be appropriate.

Last Friday, Ouderkirk delayed the trial--then scheduled to begin March 15--to March 30. But attorneys for Damian Monroe Williams 19; Henry Keith Watson, 27, and Antoine Miller, 20, continued to argue that they had not been permitted face-to-face visits with their clients at the Peter J. Pitchess Honor Rancho where they are being held.

The absence of such confidential visits had been a serious impediment to developing their defenses, the attorneys argued. Moreover, they maintained, they would need time beyond the scheduled March 30 start to review about 40 hours of raw videotape taken at the intersection of Florence and Normandie avenues where Denny was beaten as Los Angeles erupted in rioting last year.

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Miller, Williams and Watson are charged with attempted murder, aggravated mayhem and robbery in the Denny beating. They also face charges for alleged attacks on other victims assaulted at the intersection last April 29 after four Los Angeles police officers charged with beating Rodney G. King were acquitted on almost all charges.

“I am happy the judge has granted this brief continuance to assist in the preparation of the defense in this case,” attorney James R. Gillen, who represents Miller, said outside court. Gillen said the delay puts some distance between this case and the federal trial of the officers now charged with violating King’s civil rights. He said he was afraid that “any prejudice from the King trial will wash over into this case.”

“I would have preferred if this trial had been delayed into July or August so that the community could have time to digest whatever happens in the King case,” Gillen said.


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