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Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Crime: The Trial of Reginald Potts

Nailah Franklin; inset, Reginald Potts

Reginald M. Potts, Jr., the prime suspect in the murder of Nailah O. Franklin of Chicago, was assigned a trial judge on Thursday, 17th January, according to the Northwest Indiana and Illinois Times.

Judge Terrance Gainer is the fourth judge to whom Potts' murder trial has been assigned. The previous three judges recused themselves on the basis of various conflicts of interest. A previous trial judge, Judge Nicholas Ford, had set the trial date for February 19th. However, the status hearing on January 22 resulted in a change of date, according to the paper.

Judge Gainer has scheduled a hearing for February 25 to determine status on the murder trial as well as an arraignment on charges of battery, the Chicago Defender tells us. The battery charges arise out of the arrest of Reginald Potts, during which he elbowed the arresting officer.

Potts has pled not guilty to 16 counts of first-degree murder, four counts of aggravated kidnapping, and one count each of vehicular hijacking and robbery. As we previously speculated, Potts is quite the jailhouse lawyer, and had sought to represent himself claiming that the prosecution and the county's prison staff had made it impossible for him to contact a lawyer to assist him with his defense. However, he apparently has now decided to stick with the public defender assigned to his case. The delay in the trial was requested to give his current attorney, the public defender, time to familiarize themselves with the particulars of the case.

It would not surprise us in the least if Potts were to fire the public defender's office some time in the future and again insist on representing himself or finding a different attorney, thereby allowing further delays in the trial. We hope he doesn't plan to drag this out till all the witnesses are dead and gone. It's unlikely to happen anyway, since at least two of the "witnesses" are electronic, not human. Potts' cell phone records showed that he had lied about his whereabouts at the time that Franklin was murdered. Additionally, video camera footage showed that he was not where he claimed to be (shopping with friends), and was very much where he had claimed not to be (at Franklin's condo building).

Regardless of our admitted bias against Potts, we are forced, sadly, to remember that it is the prosecution's job to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Potts is guilty as charged, and that the law presumes that he is innocent until proven otherwise. Our deepest sympathies to the families of Nailah Franklin and Reginald Potts. The trial will undoubtedly be a nightmare for everyone, but most especially for the unhappy families.

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