Delay in producing evidence may delay school shooting trial

January 28, 2019
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Dimitrios Pagourtzis, the student accused of killing 10 people in a May 18, 2018, shooting at Santa Fe High School, appears via teleconference with defense attorney Katy-Marie Lyles for a status conference at the Galveston County Courthouse in Galveston, Texas, on Monday, Jan. 28, 2019. Pagourtzis' attorneys have filed a motion for a change of venue. (Jennifer Reynolds/The Galveston County Daily News via AP, Pool)

GALVESTON, Texas (AP) — The trial of a Texas school shooting suspect may be delayed for a year as federal investigators have yet to deliver key evidence, prosecutors said Monday.

The disclosure came at a 10-minute status conference in a Galveston courtroom where, by closed circuit video from jail, Dimitrios Pagourtzis made his first public appearance since his arrest at Santa Fe High School. The 18-year-old student is accused of a May 18 rampage at the school that left 10 people dead and 13 wounded.

Galveston County District Attorney Jack Roady told state District Judge John Ellisor that his staff still awaits a “substantial amount of evidence” from the FBI and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. The defense team said they’d be ready for trial this year.

About three dozen of the victims’ family members attended the hearing. Some wept as the proceedings unfolded with the shooting suspect onscreen, and one woman fled the courtroom in tears.

Ellisor set another status hearing in about three months, at which point Roady said he expected to have the evidence developed by the federal agencies.

The defense team has asked Ellisor to move the trial from Galveston, citing publicity surrounding the case that could prejudice potential jurors and prevent a fair trial. Prosecutors said they would respond to the change-of-venue motion by Friday, at which point a hearing on the motion could be scheduled.

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