Opening statements in murder trial against former officer commen - KMOV.com

Opening statements in murder trial against former officer commences Tuesday

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Former St. Louis police officer Jason Stockley is charged with first-degree murder following a fatal shooting on December 20, 2011 (Credit: Harris County Sheriff's Office) Former St. Louis police officer Jason Stockley is charged with first-degree murder following a fatal shooting on December 20, 2011 (Credit: Harris County Sheriff's Office)
ST. LOUIS, Mo. (KMOV.com) -

A former police officer charged with first-degree murder will have his day in court.

Opening statements in the case against Jason Stockley start Tuesday. 

An on-duty officer shooting case hasn't been seen in the city of St. Louis since 2000. 

But unlike the last case of an officer being charged for an on-duty shooting, this time only a judge, not a jury will determine guilt or innocence, because Stockley waived his right to a jury trial.

It's video that will, in part, be at the core of the evidence.

Dramatic dash camera video of a chase back in 2011 and then the shooting itself in which former SLMPD officer Jason Stockley shot and killing Anthony Lamar Smith.

"In these cases, anything can happen, all bets are off. These are very upsetting cases for everyone involved," said Phil Stinson. 

Stinson spoke to News 4 Investigative Reporter Lauren Trager over Skype. He's a professor and criminologist at Bowling Green State University.

He says police officers are rarely charged in these kinds of cases. Convictions are even rarer.

In the last 18 years or so-he says, six cases of this kind around the country have been tried by the bench as Stockley will be.

In all six of those instances, the officer was acquitted and not convicted of anything at all.

St. Louis City Judge Timothy Wilson will decide the verdict in Stockley's case. He has been on the bench since 1989 and was a federal prosecutor before that.

The Circuit Attorney’s Office opposed a bench trial, wanting a jury to weigh the evidence.

The judge can separate all the horrible facts and apply the law to the facts of the law and hopefully come out with a just result.

Aside from the video, another key piece of evidence will be the testimony of Stockley's partner on that day, Brian Bianchi

Stinson says another officer's words are often the only way to see a conviction in these types of cases.

What we've seen recently is that officers draw the line, if they believe the shooting wasn't justified and they will tell officers that.

Stinson says we'll have to wait and see what comes out at the trial.

Getting minute by minute information out to the public won't be easy. Cell phones or any electronic devices won't be allowed in the court room.

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