Rogers Again Asks
For Venue Change;
Judge Will Rule At
Hearing On April 5
BY KEN LITTLE
Legal sparring over evidence to be presented in the upcoming trial of Ethan A. Self occupied about three hours Friday at a motion hearing in Greene County Criminal Court.
Motions made by defense lawyers for Self, including one by John T. Milburn Rogers to have the trial moved from Greene County, will be decided by Judge John F. Dugger Jr. at a second motion hearing scheduled for April 5.
Self's trial is set to begin May 13. The jury will be selected in Hamblen County.
FIRST-DEGREE MURDER CHARGE
Self, now 21, is charged with first-degree murder in connection with the shooting death nearly three years ago of his father, Roger Self, a sergeant with the Greeneville Police Department.
Dugger ruled Friday on motions regarding admissibility at trial of evidence collected during the investigation, including photos inside the house where Roger Self was shot to death.
Roger Self, 46, a Greeneville Police Department dispatch sergeant, died of a gunshot wound to the head on March 24, 2010.
Ethan Self was charged in connection with the shooting the day after his father's body was found in the bedroom of their Love Street home. He remains free on $500,000 bond.
Decided by Judge Dugger on Friday were questions relating to evidence collected at the Self house after police responded to the shooting.
The prosecution, led by First Judicial District Attorney General Tony Clark, agreed to withdraw or alter some photos of Roger Self, and exclude photos of other items such as keys.
Over an objection from Rogers, Dugger will allow into evidence a photo of a "for sale" sign found in the basement of the house.
Dennis Brooks, an assistant district attorney general from the First Judicial District who is working with Clark on the case, said the sign may suggest to the jury one possible motive for the shooting.
Dugger granted a motion ordering the removal of all incriminating statements that are written on evidence bags or photos of evidence.
He also granted motions prohibiting the use as evidence of some items such as pillows and sheets from the bed where Self's body was found.
Notes found in the house about Ethan Self's academic status will also not be presented at trial, but documents relating to an application to the University of Tennessee will be allowed.
"It's just one of those things that may have led to what happened," Brooks said.
SOME PHOTOS BARRED
Prosecutors agreed not to use certain other photos of Roger Self depicting his wounds.
Dugger overruled defense-team objections to introduction of Roger Self's bank records, and photographs of jewelry lying in a hall of the house and drawers that appeared to have been rummaged through.
"There was jewelry strewn about the house in various places," Clark said.
Some photos showing the interior of the house as it appeared when police arrived will be allowed at trial, the judge ruled.
Dugger will reserve judgment until April 5 on whether to allow a videotape from Greeneville High School of a minor collision between Self's vehicle and another car on the day his father died. Ethan Self was a student there in 2010,
CELL PHONE ALLOWED
Judge Dugger ruled that information from Ethan Self's cell phone is admissible.
Greene County Sheriff's Department Sgt. Mike Fincher, lead investigator on the case, testified that Self willingly turned the phone over and gave consent to search it.
Dugger also will allow at trial a photo of a Ruger pistol tied to a brick. The gun, believed to be the weapon used in the shooting, was found in a pond at Hardin Park.
Through the objections and statements made by Rogers and Knoxville lawyer Herbert Moncier, who will assist him at trial, there were indications that Self would take the stand in his own defense.
Self, wearing a gray suit, blue shirt and tie, sat expressionless at the defense table and did not comment throughout the hearing.
Moncier requested a list from the prosecution of discovery that has not been provided. The defense has received a psychiatric evaluation of Ethan Self from the prosecution, along with results of a firearms examination.
'CASE NEEDS TO BE TRIED'
Moncier said more information needs to be collected about the weapon used in the shooting, and asked Dugger if it can be obtained from both the Greeneville Police Department and the Glock company, through a subpoena if necessary.
The judge said the defense is responsible for collecting what information it needs in time for trial, which has been continued three times.
"This case needs to be tried. It's been going on long enough," Dugger said.
Rogers has filed more than 100 motions seeking discovery from the prosecution.
He filed several more with the court on Friday.
REQUEST TO MOVE TRIAL
One of the motions involves a request to move the location of the trial to another county.
Judge Dugger granted a defense request last year to select a jury in another county (Hamblen County), but ruled that the case would actually be tried in Greene County.
Because Roger Self was a law enforcement officer, Rogers suggested to the judge that holding a trial in Greene County among his former colleagues is "a very serious matter" that could influence jurors from another county.
"They're going to be confronted by the Greeneville Police Department in their uniforms lined up...," Rogers said. "That will take a toll."
Rogers said that he knew Judge Dugger wants to "make sure that both sides of the trial get a just and fair verdict."
"Give us a fair trial by making a change of venue," he said.
Judge Dugger said Greeneville police officers could easily go to another county to show support for their former colleague.
There has been almost no coverage of the case in Hamblen County, and a jury picked in Morristown would not have been influenced by any point of view, he added.
The judge will decide on the motion on April 5.
MEDICAL WITNESS QUESTIONED
Rogers also questioned the validity of the prosecution's expert medical witness and what his likely testimony will be regarding Ethan Self.
Rogers said the expert never interviewed Self, but will offer a psychiatric assessment based on interviews done by defense doctors that was provided to the prosecution.
"They have taken their opening statement and their closing argument and given it to this doctor, and it's almost beyond the realm of belief," Rogers said.
Judge Dugger will review documents provided by Rogers and respond on April 5.