2 suspects trying to stop release of Otieno video
DINWIDDIE, Va. (WWBT) - A last-minute effort is underway Monday to stop Dinwiddie prosecutors from releasing the graphic video of Irvo Otieno’s final moments, who died March 6 during an intake process at Central State Hospital.
Attorneys for two of the suspects are asking a judge to prevent that evidence from going public. This comes just hours before the Dinwiddie Commonwealth’s attorney had planned to release the surveillance video.
The two defense attorneys who filed motions to suppress the videos represented Deputy Kaiyell Sanders and Central State Hospital employee Wavie Jones.
Representing Sanders is defense attorney Emilee Hasbrouck. Defense attorney Mitchell Wells is representing Jones.
The defense argues a premature release of video evidence could hinder a fair trial by jury.
Late last week, Commonwealth’s Attorney Ann Baskervill said she had planned to release the video Tuesday after a grand jury hearing.
Seven Henrico deputies and three former employees of Central State Hospital have been charged with second-degree murder in connection to Otieno’s death.
NBC12 Legal Analyst Stephen Benjamin says the defense could fear evidence shown could pose a risk of tainting a jury.
“We’re going to see something that is going to affect us for a very long time,” Benjamin said.
He says it’s unusual for prosecutors to release footage ahead of trial.
“The public, we all want accountability if there has been a wrong here, and we all want justice, but in striving to get the right results, it’s crucially important that we do it in the right way,” Benjamin said. “It’s certainly understandable that a prosecutor would want to provide as much information to the family as possible. In transparency in the criminal justice system is always a very good thing, but there’s a competing interest, and that is the right to have a jury decide this case without being biased ahead of time.”
Family members said last week that they want the video released.
“Why was my son murdered? What was the reason? What was the reason?” Otieno’s mother, Caroline Ouko, told the press last week.
According to prosecutors, videos show Otieno was smothered while face-down in handcuffs and leg irons as those deputies and hospital workers tried to admit him to Central State Hospital.
“My son was treated like a dog, worse than a dog. I saw it with my own eyes,” Ouko said.
Otieno’s mother says videos show her son being tortured and murdered by the very people assigned to help him.
“There was a chance to rescue him, there was a chance to stop what was going on, and I don’t understand how all systems failed him,” Ouko said.
Now, loved ones are demanding justice for all of those involved in Otieno’s death to be held accountable.
“We’re broken. Our hearts are broken. But us are strong, and my brother’s spirit is not done,” Otieno’s brother Leon Ochieng said.
A grand jury hearing will be held Tuesday at Dinwiddie County Courthouse at 9 a.m.
A time has not yet been confirmed for the suppression hearing.
This is a developing story.
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