Judge extends grand jury term in Ferguson trial

A JUDGE has extended the term of the grand jury in the ongoing Ferguson, Mo. case to January 2015. The jury is considering whether the white police officer, Darren Wilson, should be charged in the fatal shooting of black teenager Michael Brown on August 9.

“The case is still being presented to the grand jury and we are moving forward with it,” said Edward Magee, a spokesman for St. Louis County Prosecutor Bob McCulloch.

The prosecutor’s office hoped to finish its presentation of evidence for the trial in October, but now has until Jan. 7, 2015 to conclude the investigation. The grand jury’s term has already been extended by a judge past its four-month original allowance. This is also the longest extension allowed by Missouri law, according to St. Louis County Court administration.

The grand jury—which includes both black and white male and female representatives—now has until January to meet and focus strictly on the Michael Brown death by former officer Wilson, and not consider any other related cases.

“It gives them that [time] window,” said court administrator Paul Fox. “This is not a typical case.”

Brown, 18, was shot midday on August 9 in a residential neighborhood of Ferguson, a predominantly-black St. Louis suburb. Multiple witnesses claim the confrontation by Darren Wilson turned fatal when Brown put his hands up in surrender and was shot numerous times.

The shooting led to weeks of protests and public unrest throughout Ferguson, and has begun a national discussion about police brutality and treatment of minorities. Separate investigations are being made by the US Justice Department.

In the meantime, Wilson remains on a paid administrative leave pending investigation. Many believe he should be charged with a crime, and that there is enough evidence for McCulloch to file charges directly without a grand jury.

McCulloch has said he will present all evidence at trial, but will let the grand jury make the decision whether Wilson’s use of lethal force and the killing of Michael Brown was justified. Some including Brown’s family have demanded that McCulloch be replaced with a special prosecutor to oversee the case more fairly.

(With reports from Associated Press, MSN News)

(LA Midweek September 17-19, 2014 Sec. A pg.5)

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