Legal battle escalates over request for outside jury in Andrew Delke murder case

Where will the jury come from in high profile murder case?
Posted at 12:24 PM, Dec 12, 2019
and last updated 2019-12-12 20:51:25-05

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — It's an escalating legal battle -- not over the evidence, but over the jury. The question: Who will hear the murder case against Metro police officer Andrew Delke?

The trial date is tentatively set for March 10th. But the legal battle is already underway -- with new motions just filed debating whether the jury will come from Davidson County.

"The hearts and minds of Davidson County residents have solidified into two intractable camps, " said Delke's attorney David Raybin at a hearing last month.

That argument is at the flashpoint of a legal battle. The question: Should a jury be brought in from a city outside of Nashville? "A Davidson County jury is unlikely to provide the fair trial guaranteed by the constitution," said Raybin.

Deputy District Attorney Roger Moore disagrees. "A change of venue is not warranted. There are fair jurors in Davidson County, Tennessee."

Officer Delke, currently decommissioned and free on bond, is charged with murder in the shooting death of Daniel Hambrick. Video of the incident was made public not long after it happened in July of 2018, and reaction was swift.

Polling by Delke's attorneys show most of those who've seen the video have already made up their minds on guilt or innocence ... and that they are split. But the defense's first request for a change of venue was recently denied by Judge Monte Watkins.

Now they hope to appeal.

"In a charge of this magnitude the court will give the defense wide leeway to prepare for trial because it is a very serious charge," said legal analyst Nick Leonardo. He said if prospective jurors are indeed split in Davidson County -- that could mean a hung jury ... or a compromise verdict.

Delke, if convicted of first degree murder, could face life in prison. But prosecutors know a split Nashville jury could also return a lesser charge.

How would that happen?

Jury members may be split with some wanting to acquit and others to convict of first degree murder. So, then they could settle the case compromising on a lesser charge say reckless homicide ... which would likely bring a sentence of only probation.

Many close to the case say any felony conviction is a win for the prosecution.

Delke's attorneys seek nothing less than a full acquittal, and will go before Judge Monte Watkins on Monday seeking to appeal his decision, still hoping to bring in a jury from outside Davidson County.