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Defense in Racine officer homicide case asks for mistrial after juror COVID-19 contact

Posted at 2:05 PM, Sep 24, 2020
and last updated 2020-09-24 19:22:01-04

RACINE — A COVID-19 exposure temporarily halts the trial of man accusing of killing an off-duty Racine Police Officer. A juror has now been dismissed from the case so the person can quarantine.

Racine County is holding one of its first jury trials since COVID-19 pandemic started. Dalquavis Ward is being tried for first degree intentional homicide in the death of Racine Police Officer John Hetland.

Wednesday, a juror found out they were exposed to someone COVID-19 positive. That juror was told to quarantine and immediately told the judge. The judge dismissed the juror and court was abruptly canceled for the day. Before the trial of Ward could get back underway, the court had to wait to find out the health status of a juror.

“The court agreed to taking steps to have the juror be tested for COVID-19,” said Judge Timothy Boyle.

The health department worked with the courts to expedite a test for the juror and after the results came back negative, health officials said the trial could move forward. But defense attorneys called for a mistrial.

“I just don’t think we can go through fairly,” said Charles Glynn, defense attorney. “I don’t think what anyone wants to do is run the risk of doing this twice or doing this again another time.”

The judge ultimately decided Ward who is accused of killing off-duty Officer John Hetland can get a fair trial.

Prosecutors moved forward by calling Lisa Treffinger from the Wisconsin State Crime Lab who testified about the DNA found in Teesers bar and on Hetland’s body after he was shot and killed. Prosecutors say Hetland tried to tackle Ward as he was robbing the bar and the proof of Ward’s guilt is the DNA. investigators found of Hetland’s face, neck and t-shirt.

“In each of those situations the DNA was consistent or a match with who?” asked Michael Graveley, Kenosha County District Attorney.

“With Dalquavis Ward,” answered Treffinger.

The defense is arguing Ward’s DNA could have been put in the bar and on Hetland’s body by law enforcement who had investigated Ward in the past. They say Ward is innocent.

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