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Charles "Chuckie" Fleming Murder Trial Day One Tues Feb 19th

 

Charles "Chuckie" Fleming Murder Trial

 

Tuesday, February 19, 2019

 

By Terry Bailey

 

 

The wheels of justice continue to move in the Carol Fleming murder case. In August of 2003 Fleming was found dead in her home in east Beloit. Days, weeks, and months passed as local law enforcement, with help from KBI, conducted investigations, gathered evidence and interviewed possible witnesses. The case went cold and fifteen years passed with nobody being charged for the murder. Things changed last October when charges were filed against Charles “Chuckie” Fleming for the murder of his mother. A three day hearing was conducted to examine the evidence. At the conclusion of the hearing it was determined that sufficient evidence existed for a trial to be held to determine Fleming’s guilt or innocence.

 

The jury trial in this case began action on Tuesday, February 19th. About 100 Mitchell County citizens had been called to report for jury duty. By 8:45 am all potential jurors had checked in and were seated in the Courtroom.

 

The prosecuting attorney for the State of Kansas is Mitchell County attorney Mark Noah. Noah is assisted by Jennifer O’Hare, the Lincoln County attorney. Julie Effenbeck is the defense attorney representing Fleming. Assisting Effenbeck is Bruce Weinbrenner. The Honorable Kim Cudney, judge of the 12th judicial district, is presiding over the trial.

 

The entire first day of the trial was dedicated to selecting 12 jurors and two alternates who are charged with evaluating the testimony of the witnesses, examining the evidence and rendering a verdict of guilty or not guilty.

 

As the session was called to order, 42 potential jurors, randomly selected, were called forward to be seated. Once the pool of 42 potential jurors was seated, Cudney asked a number of general questions of the group such as, “Have you already formed an opinion in this case?, Do you have pressing health or personal needs that would not allow you to serve as a juror for the expected 6 days of the trial?” and so forth.

 

Next, Mark Noah questioned the jurors to determine how well they knew the principals in the case and the witnesses that would be called. As could be well imagined, in a small town such as Beloit, everybody knows everybody to some extent. Noah questioned those admitting knowing those involved with the trial to determine if what they knew would influence their ability to keep an open mind about the proceedings. During his questioning of potential jurors in the morning session, four people were excused.

 

After a one hour fifteen minute noon recess, the proceedings continued with Noah examining potential jurors ability to keep an open mind and render an impartial verdict. He reminded those in the jury pool that the trial is scheduled for six days. Guilt must be proved beyond a reasonable doubt. The defendant is assumed to be innocent until proven guilty. It is the state’s duty to prove the guilt of the person charged. It is not the duty of the defendant’s attorney to prove he is innocent since he is assumed to be innocent until proven guilty.

 

At 2:10 p.m. the defense attorney, Julie Effenbeck, addressed those in the jury pool. Effenbeck began by asking if the potential jurors understood the definition of circumstantial evidence. This is evidence that implies a person committed a crime, (for example, the person was seen running away from the crime scene).  She went on to say that the case before them is a fifteen year old case that is based solely on circumstantial evidence. She posed a question for them to consider, “Is it okay to judge a case purely on circumstantial evidence?”

 

Effenbeck went on to discuss the ideas of due diligence, rush to judgement, immunity, the privilege of the 5th amendment and proving a fact beyond a reasonable doubt. She finished her comments by saying that there is no new evidence in this case.

 

At 2:45 pm, the attorneys and the judge recessed to the judge’s chamber to select the fourteen jurors. At 4:05, the session was called back into order. Eight women and six men were called to take a seat in the jury box and were then sworn in. Only the judge and the attorneys know which twelve are the actual jury and which two are alternates.

 

Judge Cudney told the jurors that they were only to decide on the evidence submitted in the courtroom. She reminded them that Charles “Chuckie” Fleming was charged with murder in the first degree committed on August 16th of 2003. The defense does not have to prove his innocence. The prosecution must prove Fleming’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.

 

At 4:15 Judge Cudney, recognizing it was late in the afternoon and that the forecasted snowfall was beginning, dismissed the jurors for the day. Court will be called to order at 9:00 am on Wednesday morning, February 20th.

 

 

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