BENTON — After several court proceedings in a row that had involved much drama as motions were discussed and argued, the case of a teenager accused of killing two students and wounding several others in a 2018 school shooting had a different tone Friday.
While Gabriel Parker, 16, the student accused of committing these acts on Jan. 23, 2018, at Marshall County High School in Draffenville, was in the courtroom Friday afternoon in Benton, nearly all of the attention was on how the trial for his case would proceed. Parker is scheduled to go on trial in June 2020 in Hopkinsville on charges that include two counts of murder and 14 counts of assault in the first degree.
Marshall Commonwealth’s Attorney Dennis Foust, in fact, called Friday’s day in court “uneventful.”
“There was nothing of consequence really (Friday). There was nothing that came up that we were not agreeing on today,” said Foust of the discussions between the prosecution and the defense team, led by Danville attorney Tom Griffiths.
“This was a status hearing that lasted about an hour and it was all pretty much procedural,” Foust said noting that the one of the subjects covered Friday was a part of a case known as “voir dire,” which is a legal term related to jury selection.
“We’re going to start that on June 1, according to the plan and (Marshall Circuit Judge James T. Jameson) is talking about having two jury pools for this case, which will allow for a backup jury, just in case something was to arise. We got those things kinds of things ironed out (Friday).”
Foust said Jameson is aiming to summon 500 potential jurors for each of the two pools of Christian County residents who will comprise the jury for this case. The case was moved out of Marshall County earlier.
“I’d expect about 150 to 200 to respond from each pool,” said Foust, who has much experience with this type of matter, having been Kentucky 42nd Judicial Circuit Judge for 16 years; the 42nd serves both Marshall and Calloway counties.
However, while Foust said Friday’s hearing was devoid of drama, the case itself remains anything but routine.
“Not on this, no. This is not old hat for anybody. This is one of those types of cases that don’t come along very often,” he said.
Jameson set a Feb. 14, 2020, date for the next status hearing in the case. Individuals facing charges are presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.