NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — UPDATE: Andrew Delke has been indicted on First Degree Murder charges. More to come.
The criminal homicide case against Metro Nashville Police officer Andrew Delke is off to the Grand Jury. The question now: What happens next?
Grand Jury members will meet in secret and tackle the same issues that just occupied the judge: A high-profile, racially-charged case with hard-driving attorneys on both sides. After a lengthy, two-day preliminary hearing General Sessions Judge Melissa Blackburn sent the case against Metro officer Andrew Delke over to the Grand Jury.
The decision came as no surprise to legal analyst Nick Leonardo.
"No, it's a low threshold. All the judge had to do was determine if there was probable cause a crime was committed and the defendant was involved," said Leonardo.
There's no doubt security video showing the officer shooting 25-year-old Daniel Hambrick last July played a role in the judge's decision. That same video and other evidence is sure to be scrutinized by members of the Grand Jury as they decide whether or not to indict Officer Delke.
If they do, the question will be the charge.
"Is it first degree murder, second degree murder, criminally negligent homicide or reckless homicide? They'll have to make that determination," said Leonardo.
An indictment would mean the case will then be set for trial, and Leonardo said once it gets to that point it's hard to imagine either side agreeing to a plea deal.
"If there is a first degree murder indictment in this case, I'm not sure it will result in a plea," said Leonardo.
However, any talk of a plea is premature. It's likely we won't hear anything from the Grand Jury until this spring. And if there's an indictment, Leonardo said a trial could still be more than one year away.
There's a long way to go. Delke remains free on bond while awaiting a decision from the Grand Jury.