A judge on Monday scheduled a date in August for the state trial against four of the five former Memphis police officers charged in the fatal beating of Tyre Nichols earlier this year, the Associated Press reported.
Shelby County Criminal Court Judge James Jones, Jr. announced during a hearing on Monday an August 12 trial date for Tadarrius Bean, Demetrius Haley, Emmitt Martin, and Justin Smith. The four former officers all pleaded not guilty to second-degree murder and other state charges in the death of Tyre Nichols during a January 7 traffic stop.
Desmond Mills Jr., a fifth officer charged, pleaded guilty to felony obstruction of justice and excessive force on November 2 in exchange for a recommended sentence of 15 years. According to prosecutors, Mills also agreed to later plead guilty to the state charges. A federal judge will have the final say in Mills’ sentencing.
Prosecutor Paul Hagerman told reporters after last week’s hearing that defense attorneys privately informed the prosecution and the judge that they expected the trial to last a month. However, Hagerman said there was no need for a monthlong trial since “the proof is pretty simple.”
Hagerman also revealed that Desmond Mills could testify against the other four defendants in the state trial as part of his plea.
William Massey, the lawyer representing Emmitt Martin said after the hearing that he may file a motion for a change of venue, meaning a jury from somewhere outside of Shelby County, which includes Memphis, would hear the case. The beating death of Tyre Nichols received heavy press coverage in Memphis.
The four former officers also face federal charges of excessive force, deliberate indifference, failing to intervene, conspiring to lie, and obstruction of justice. The federal trial is scheduled for May 6.
After Tyre Nichols’ death, all five officers, who are black, were fired from the Memphis Police Department. The crime-suppression unit they belonged to was also disbanded.