The Justice Files: State courts to resume jury trials

Justice Files

SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4 Utah) – The family of Timothy Houlihan wanted a speedy trial.

Last year, they even wrote a letter to the judge to expedite the case involving Houlihan.  He was murdered in 2016 and numerous delays kept the trial on hold.

Andrew Berry is facing murder charges for allegedly killing Houlihan.  His mother was also seeking the case be expedited.

“I have an immense concern because I am losing my child to the devastation of what he has experienced and the time it is taking to have the truth of his case known,” wrote Berry’s mother.  “I  have been completely helpless and powerless.” 

But in March the state legal system was put on hold due to Covid-19.  Jury trials were postponed.  Only remote hearings for felony cases were allowed.

Attorneys for Jerrod Baum have also been frustrated with the lack of an in-person jury trial.  Baum is facing capital murder charges for allegedly murdering two teens in 2018.  His attorneys claimed a person has a right to be in the same room as those who are about to pass judgment.

But Friday, the state courts issued a new order that could begin in-person trials by the end of the month.  But it’s an experiment with two trials scheduled to take place. The first trial will be held in Salt Lake County on January 25. A second trial will be held in Duchesne County in February.   Other districts are soon to follow once they present a plan to proceed.

The court’s released a video on the steps they will be taking to ensure public safety.

Houlihan’s family said they welcomed the change but it is irrelevant. Berry’s attorneys filed a motion to have his competency evaluated.

“As eager as we are in this painful and traumatic incident to have closure, we understand it has to be done in the right way legally,” said John Houlihan, the brother of Timothy. “We are willing to wait patiently.”

And many other victims and their families will have to patiently wait as well.

Brandon Merrill with Utah Homicide Survivors said it could take another two years before trials begin. But he said once it does it will benefit survivors.

“I think it’s going to be great for them because they can now start on that path for healing,” Merrill said. “You can’t really get there until there’s been justice.”

Click here to download the ABC4 Utah News app for the first alerts on your phone. Sign up for the ABC4 Utah breaking news and daily newsletters.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

ABC4 PODCASTS

More Podcasts