TAMPA, Fla. - After initially having the case against her dropped, followed by a hung jury during her first trial, the defense for Cortnee Brantley hoped to avoid dealing with a jury at all.
The former girlfriend of an accused cop killer, Brantley is accused of not telling police that Dontae Morris was carrying a handgun with ammunition the night two Tampa police officers were murdered in 2010. Morris is charged with the first degree murders of officers David Curtis and Jeffrey Kocab after he and Brantley were pulled over for a traffic stop.
Brantley's attorney went before federal judge James Moody and asked for a bench trial, where there is no jury and the judge makes the final ruling. Moody promptly denied the request, saying prosecutors refused to waive their right to a jury trial.
Both the defense and the prosecution have to agree in order to have a bench trial.
The defense was likely looking for an angle that would give them a better chance for acquittal, especially considering that Judge Moody initially threw out the case.
"Not only did he scold the prosecution, but he dismissed the charges," said Tampa attorney Stephen Crawford, a former federal prosecutor. "That's about as strong an indication that a judge will give you as to what he thinks of the charges."
During the first trial, Brantley's defense attorney Grady Irvin said that police and prosecutors were caught up in the emotion of a cop killer case, and they were resentful that his client refused to cooperate with police.
"We are not required as United States citizens to cooperate with law enforcement in any way," Crawford said. "Whether you should or not is an ethical and moral question, but not necessarily a legal question," he said.
Crawford said the U.S. Attorney's case against Brantley is what is described in defense attorney circles as an "ulterior motive prosecution." That means there's a reason beyond just the charges alone. In this case, it's Brantley's refusal to testify against her ex-boyfriend.
"It's never a good thing in our opinion to prosecute someone for other motives, which is, we want them to flip against someone else," Crawford said. "But federal prosecutors have a lot of discretion."
The re-trial is scheduled for late October. Crawford said he expects prosecutors will have the same difficulty convincing the jury of Brantley's guilt.
"This charge is never brought unless there is the killing of police officers," Crawford said. "I don't fault them for that. I'm just not sure I would have come to the same decision."
Copyright 2012 Scripps Media, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.
Jurors in the Jodi Arias trial said they couldn't come up with a unanimous decision when deliberating life or death as of noon Wednesday.