In an interview with WOOD TV8 on Sunday, Feb. 5, Criminal Defense Attorney Sarissa Montague said it is unlikely that the trial against former Grand Rapids police officer Chris Schurr for the death of Patrick Lyoya will begin in March as scheduled.
On Friday, Feb. 3, Kent County Circuit Court Judge Christina Elmore denied a motion from the defense to throw out the second-degree murder case. Schurr’s attorneys say they plan to appeal that decision to the Michigan Court of Appeals.
Montague told WOOD TV8 that the appeal could delay a trial significantly.
“I think there’s a good chance that it likely will be several months added onto the process,” Montague said during her interview.
Both the defense and prosecution have also told News 8 they expect a March trial to be pushed back.
“In order for a case to be heard by the Michigan Court of Appeals, that typically takes several months as well,” said Montague. “You can send in an application. They have to decide whether or not to hear it. If they are going to hear it, you then get a notice back, you have to file more pleadings.”
If that appeal fails, the defense could then appeal to the Michigan Supreme Court, delaying things further.
“Even assuming that it stops at the Court of Appeals, then it still is a couple of months,” Montague told WOOD TV8. “If you’re going to go on further to the supreme court, that adds on time as well.”
Montague, who has represented police officers in the past, said the move makes sense from a defense attorney’s perspective.
“It’s pretty standard,” she said during her interview. “If you’re going to make the effort to file the motion to quash in the first place, then it’s because you believe it is a winning argument. If you lost at the circuit court level, then it makes sense to go onto the court of appeals. And if you lose at the court of appeals, if you believe that you have a winning argument, it makes sense to go forward to the Michigan Supreme Court.
“I anticipate there’ll be some questions about evidence,” Montague added. “There’s going to be some rulings from the judge about things that can come in, things that can’t come in at trial. Those are also issues that are appealable based on the rulings that come down.”
Montague said the delays offer both the defense and prosecution the chance to further prepare their cases, reviewing evidence and talking to witnesses. She stresses it’s normal for cases to be delayed like this because both sides want things done properly.
“It happens in many cases — this is not uncommon,” Montague told WOOD TV8.
“You want to get it right the first time,” she added. “You want to make sure you’ve covered all your stones initially, so you don’t come back on appeal and have to do it again in a year, two years, or three. So if it takes a couple more months now, then it makes sense to do that so you have a solid end.”
Watch Ms. Montague’s interview: