SANTA CRUZ -- Attorneys are dueling over what evidence jurors will be allowed to hear and how much courtroom security is needed for a man facing more than 50 felony charges.This was a huge local story when it happened a couple of years ago. I had a family court trial going on at the same time, and it was all the court deputies were talking about.
Pretrial motions in the Maurice Lamont Ainsworth escape and home invasion cases consumed hours Tuesday, and are expected to do so Wednesday.
Ainsworth, 26, is accused of assaulting and escaping from a sheriff's deputy at Dominican Hospital in November 2010 and using her stolen gun to rob a preschool teacher of her car keys. He then stormed into a nearby home and holding an elderly couple hostage. Prosecutors allege he was trying to avoid prosecution for a violent March 2009 home invasion in the Santa Cruz Mountains.
The two alleged crime sprees were combined for trial purposes. If convicted, he faces at least one possible life sentence.
Verinsky said Ainsworth is 6 feet, 7 inches tall and weighs about 265 pounds and was a "very physically imposing figure."Ainsworth escaped before because he faked a shoulder injury and a 5-foot tall 95-pount woman deputy took him by herself to get an MRI. They removed his handcuffs for the MRI. Then he overpowered her, took her gun, and went on a rampage.
"If he acts out, it will require a number of deputies to restrain him," he said.
Burdick issued a tentative ruling that Ainsworth be fitted with two leg braces under the clothes he will wear at trial, and that three deputies could be in the courtroom.
The court deputies I talked to denied that her sex was the problem. She was highly trained and competent, they assured me. Obviously those deputies were fully trained in politically correct excuses.
My guess is that they will have 5 men on the guy now, as well as leg irons.
Tuesday, prosecutors asked Santa Cruz County Superior Court Judge Paul Burdick to bar news media from naming any of the civilian witnesses.Yes, a gag order would be extraordinary and unnecessary. The USA has a First Amendment guaranteeing free speech. Ainsworth is never getting out of prison anyway. In other countries, prosecutors and judges get away with gag orders and coverups.
The Sentinel challenged that motion, given that many of the witnesses previously have been named. Sentinel attorney James Chadwick of Sheppard, Mullin, Richter & Hampton argued that to bar the press from printing legally obtained information would constitute "prior restraint" and violate the First Amendment.
Prosecutor Celia Rowland argued printing victims' and witnesses' names would endanger them, and that the court has the power to protect them.
Burdick called an order barring all victims' names "extraordinary" and said he was "extremely uncomfortable limiting press coverage." Yet he also said it was an extraordinary case with significant safety concerns. He said he would rule on the issue Wednesday morning.
A decision also is expected Wednesday on a defense motion proposing that no evidence of Ainsworth's alleged Norteño gang affiliation be allowed in at trial.
The order was just announced:
SANTA CRUZ- Judge Paul Burdick denied a motion by prosecutors to bar news media from naming any of the civilian witnesses in the trial of Maurice Ainsworth, who faces trial on more than 50 charges for escaping custody and a prior home invasion.Meanwhile, I am forbidden to quote certain testimony in my trials, even tho it was given in open court with no restrictions. The issue was not confidential info about my kids or my ex-wife's mental condition or anything like that. It was just a case of judges protecting the incompetence and corruption of court officials.
In his ruling Wednesday, Burdick also stated that he didn't have the authority to bar the press from reporting that Ainworth's codefendant in the March 2009 home invasion will be testifying for the prosecution during the trial.
"Jyler Raines' involvement in the case has been widely reported," Burdick said. "I don't believe I have the authority to restrict the press from reporting that."