“...the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic continues to pose a significant risk to the health and safety of all participants in a jury trial, including the court, court personnel, potential jurors, witnesses, trial counsel and the defendant,” the motion says.
Montgomery County Common Pleas Court Administrative Judge Gregory Singer previously filed an order suspending all civil and criminal trials through the end of the year, but the order also gives each individual judge the ability to hold trials if unavoidable circumstances arise. Pentecost said in the motion that there are no circumstances that should prevent the case from being continued and said that his client filed a time waiver to avoid any speedy trial implications.
The motion also says that Santana is 65 years old and a high risk of contracting COVID-19.
“He is currently housed in the medical unit at the Montgomery County Jail and has personally expressed concern to counsel about this heightened risk and how this concern would prevent him from being able to be fully engaged during a trial while requiring the services of an interpreter during all proceedings,” the motion says. “A defendant like Mr. Santana should not be forced into risking a potentially deadly infection during an ongoing pandemic when he, personally, is requesting a postponement of the trial in order to exercise his rights without such health and safety concerns.”
Prosecutors responded to the motion, pointing out that other jury trials have taken place in Montgomery County recently and that the case had already been postponed once before. They said they object to the continuance.
On Wednesday, Judge Timothy O’Connell ordered the trial continued. Instead of a final pre-trial hearing taking place on Tuesday, it’s been changed to a scheduling conference.