Defense attorneys in the capital murder trial of Christopher Michael Rich said Tuesday they anticipate asking that it be Postponed.
The trial is scheduled to begin April 18.
Rich, 32, is accused of shooting his common-law wife, Hollie Elizabeth Newbury, as their daughter watched Dec. 21, 2009.
During a motions hearing, defense attorneys Jamy Poss and Chris Childers told Lauderdale Circuit Court Judge Gil Self that it could be some time in June before an expert witness for the defense is available to testify.
Lauderdale District Attorney Chris Connolly said he and Chief Assistant District Attorney Will Powell are prepared for the trial to begin later this month on schedule.
Childers and Poss said they expect to notify Self next week about when their witness will be prepared to testify.
Lauderdale County sheriff’s investigators said the shooting that killed Newbury occurred as the couple met in Zip City to exchange custody of their daughters, who were ages 1 and 6 at the time. Investigators said Newbury, 24, was shot once with a shotgun.
The older daughter witnessed the shooting, authorities said. As a result, Rich also is charged with aggravated child abuse.
Among the motions Self heard Tuesday was one by the defense asking that he be barred from overriding the jury’s sentencing recommendation if Rich is convicted of capital murder. The only sentencing options for capital murder in Alabama are the death penalty or life in prison without parole.
Alabama law allows judges to override the jury and impose the death penalty when jurors recommend a life sentence.
“We’re asking the court to not override the jury,” Poss said.
Self denied the motion.
Prosecutors say they plan to seek the death penalty if Rich is convicted of capital murder.
Self also denied a motion from defense attorneys asking that he set a higher standard for how the trial is conducted because it is a death penalty case. The attorneys requested more detailed instructions be given to jurors before they begin deliberations.
Self said Rich’s trial will be treated like any other.
“I like to think all cases receive a high standard of attention,” Self said.
“This case will receive no more or no less than any other case,” he said.