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Dishon trial date still in air; attorneys will meet in May

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By Thomas Barr

 SHEPHERDSVILLE - Whether the trial in the 1999 death of Jessica Dishon will be held this September is yet to be determined.

A status hearing Wednesday left that question open for more discussion as attorneys will gather on May 9 in Bullitt Circuit Court.

Attorneys for Stanley Dishon, who has been charged with the kidnapping and murder of his niece, requested a continuance in the September trial date.

Special judge Charles Simms III did not rule on that motion during the recent hearing.

Much of the 90-minute hearing dealt with other motions filed both by defense attorneys Melanie Hollingsworth and Jennifer Wittmeyer and prosecutors Michael Mann and Michael Ferguson.

As in an earlier hearing, much of the discussion centered around discovery evidence which had or had not been provided by the prosecution.

There was no objection to allow the defense team to have access to the property owned by Mike Dishon.

Dishon, who still lives at the home in which his daughter was allegedly taken from on Sept. 17, 1999, would have to allow permission.

Another question dealt with the inspection of the trial evidence from the trial of David "Bucky" Brooks, who was originally charged with Dishon's murder.

That trial ended in a mistrial and charges were ultimately dismissed.

Ferguson's concern was that he could imagine the defense team would offer a storyline in which it will again say that Brooks was the responsible party.

If there is information handed over in file that includes privileged discussions between Brooks and his attorney John Spainhour, Ferguson said that could be used against Brooks.

But Simms said that if Spainhour has voluntarily allowed that file to become part of the court record, there would be no violation of privilege.

Although the judge didn't see this as being a problem, he agreed to Ferguson's request to present Spainhour and Brooks at the May 9 hearing.

Currently, the file was in Frankfort but defense attorneys were instructed not to access it. Simms said he didn't know what information on in the file.

At the hearing, both Spainhour and Brooks will be asked to testify.

After a rather heated hearing in December, the only issue which drew controversy Wednesday was a motion to not allow the commonwealth to tell witnesses to not speak with defense attorneys.

Simms said the simplified order would be that neither side had the right to tell anyone who they can or cannot talk with. He said that is the right of the individual person.

However, Ferguson said the motion was made with bad faith. Despite hearing what the judge's order would be, Ferguson took offense at implications that the prosecutors had committed unethical acts.

He said there no evidence that the commonwealth attorney's office told anyone to not talk with defense attorneys.

Ferguson said that would be in violation of bar association standards and it was not proper and not correct.

Also in contrast to the earlier hearing was the agreement that much of the requested discovery had been presented to the defense team.

Hollingsworth said that although there was apparently no recorded FBI interviews with Brooks, Mann agreed that he would check once again to determine if his office had another other interviews.

Mann also agreed to contact the Kentucky State Police to see if polygraph tests were given to several individuals and any results would be forwarded to the defense.

If Hollingsworth wants to look at old newspaper clippings, Simms said she could arrange a time to look at those collected by Mann's office.

The chief prosecutor didn't understand the purpose since the articles are not evidence and he didn't know why they were collected. He said there was no problem with the defense attorneys looking at them and making any copies.

In terms of getting additional information from the FBI, Mann forwarded what was evidence but some was labeled as "work product" and not produced.

Hollingsworth requested the legal counsel for the FBI send the "work product" to Simms so the judge could rule. Simms said that if the FBI wanted to have a hearing on the matter, that could be done.

Mann said that all search warrants had been presented to the defense.

Edward Bayless testified that he could get the telephone records for the two unnamed witnesses in the state prison system who told investigators that Dishon admitted committing the crime.

Bayless said that the information would merely have the telephone number called and the duration of the call.

He would also provide a visitor log for each.

Mail records are not kept, he said.

Due to security issues of those who might be listed on the logs, the information will be placed under seal for no public inspection.

In other evidence issues, Mann said he felt that everything requested was provided -- if his office had it.

He would check over the next 30 days to see if there was anything else available in terms of things such as DNA tests and reports made by search dog teams.

In requesting a list of witnesses who might be called by the prosecution, Mann admitted it was a very long list. In looking through the volumes of documents, Mann said every possible name was put on the list.

He agreed to give address and phone information on as many people as possible.

The trial remains set for September.

Dishon, who has also been indicted on three other sex-related offenses, would not receive the death penalty if found guilty of murder or kidnapping.

It was in September 1999 that the 17-year-old Bullitt Central senior disappeared from her home. A shoe, purse and other items were found in her car in her parents' driveway. It would be 17 days later that her body would be found off Greenwell Ford Road.

Medical examiners determined she has been sexually assaulted and strangled.

Brooks was charged with the crime and went to trial in 2002. After the mistrial, no one else had been charged until last fall.

The Bullitt County Sheriff's Office worked on tips from two state inmates as part of its investigation. Indictments were later handed down by the Bullitt County Grand Jury.

Dishon is currently housed in the Bullitt County Detention Center.