Double homicide trial postponed

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The double homicide trial for Gregory Avery has been delayed until December after prosecutors submitted evidence they claim ties a handgun used in the killings to two other shootings in Washington.


Avery, who is accused of fatally shooting two men in 2009 during a dispute at a Washington bar, was supposed to go to trial Monday, but his attorney raised questions about new ballistics evidence brought forward by prosecutors.


Prosecutors filed a notice last week introducing the evidence found at the scenes of two separate shootings that investigators say match the .22-caliber handgun used in the Feb. 16, 2009, slayings outside the now defunct Cabaret West bar.


Just as the trial was about to begin, defense attorney Michael DeRiso said he needed more time to hire a ballistics expert to review the new evidence provided by the prosecution. The double homicide trial for Avery, 24, of 555 Ewing St., Washington, is now on the docket for Dec. 2 because of scheduling conflicts.


Avery was arrested last April and is accused of killing Troy Saunders Jr., 23, of Canton Township, and Marquis Taylor, 24, of Washington, at the bar on East Chestnut Street. Phillip Whitlock, who pleaded guilty to criminal homicide in the case last year, pointed to Avery as the other gunman involved in the shooting and is expected to testify at trial.


A .22-caliber casing found at the scene of the shooting of Whitlock’s uncle, Hugh Whitlock, in September 2008 allegedly came from the handgun used in the Cabaret West killings. Washington police also think Avery was involved in the January 2009 shooting of another man in the city. However, the victims refused to cooperate in both cases, so no one was ever charged.


DeRiso met privately with Avery and the defendant’s family in the courtroom before the trial was scheduled to begin to discuss the possible delay. Meanwhile, just a few feet away outside the courtroom, Assistant District Attorney Mike Lucas spoke to the victims’ families about the situation.


Washington County Judge Katherine Emery then granted the continuance and dismissed the jury, which was selected last week.


Avery will remain in the Washington County jail without bond until the start of his trial.


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