One count of the indictment of Robert Rupert, who is charged with capital murder, aggravated assault and murder, may be dismissed due to rights violations and time conflicts, as the April Clay County Circuit Court term approaches.
Rupert is charged with one count of capital murder for allegedly killing Roosevelt Pernell on or around Dec. 4, 2003 and is charged with one count of aggravated assault for allegedly shooting Cedric Pernell around the same time. The third count, which is in question, is a charge from the July 24, 1994 murder of Carlos Carr that Rupert allegedly committed.
Last October, Rupert and his attorney, John Helmert, Jr. of Jackson, filed a motion to dismiss count three of the indictment for unconstitutional pre-trial delay. The motion was requested due to questions about the state’s violation of Rupert’s fundamental rights to Due Process and to a speedy trial.
Rupert was indicted for the murder of Carr on Oct. 9, 2009, 15 years after Carr was found with a gunshot wound to the back of his head. According to the motion, during the time between July 24, 1994 and the October indictment, Rupert was not arrested for the murder, not indicted for the murder and “was not charged by any formal charging mechanism under the law.”
The state is being challenged with excessively delaying the pretrial, which is a violation of Due Process, according to Doggett v. United States. “Due Process is violated where the right to a fair trial has been substantially prejudiced by a pretrial delay and where that delay was intentionally designed to gain a tactical advantage over a defendant.” Rupert expressed in the motion that the Sixth Amendment gives him a right to a speedy trial, which he has not been given because of the delay. Helmert submitted the motion, stating that Rupert could not adequately cross-examine the state’s witnesses because some of them suffered a loss of memory of the event and some are dead.
A motion was made Thursday for the court to enter an order to dismiss the murder count considering that the state’s proof of guilt would mainly come from witnesses who could testify to Rupert being the last person with Carr before he was murdered. The motion states that some of those witnesses are deceased, one’s whereabouts are unknown and the other witnesses no longer remember the events of that time nor do they remember what they said in previous statements in this case.
Rupert’s count three murder trial, as of today, is still set for April 11.
A pretrial motion hearing for Rupert is scheduled for Thursday, March 31.