LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — The man accused of killing an Arkansas television anchorwoman from South Carolina will face trial in November, a judge ruled Tuesday, as prosecutors prepare for what will likely be a death-penalty case. Pulaski County Circuit Judge Chris Piazza pushed back the capital murder trial of Curtis Lavelle Vance to Nov. […]
LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — The man accused of killing an Arkansas television anchorwoman from South Carolina will face trial in November, a judge ruled Tuesday, as prosecutors prepare for what will likely be a death-penalty case.
Pulaski County Circuit Judge Chris Piazza pushed back the capital murder trial of Curtis Lavelle Vance to Nov. 2 after his defense lawyers said they needed more time to conduct DNA testing. Vance previously faced a Sept. 9 trial in the death of Anne Pressly, a morning anchorwoman for Little Rock television station KATV.
However, Piazza warned lawyers there would be no other delays.
“I don’t think it’s unreasonable to grant a continuance … but I won’t grant another in this trial,” Piazza told lawyers. The judge later added: “We’re going to finish this in a week, I promise you.”
Katherine Streett, who heads Vance’s team of public defenders, asked for the delay to conduct DNA testing on evidence gathered from Pressly’s home after she was attacked Oct. 20. Police also collected a DNA swab from Vance’s mouth during their investigation and recently took hair samples from him.
Deputy Prosecutor John Johnson opposed the request, saying defense lawyers knew the two kind of DNA testing investigators performed on the samples. Johnson also questioned why Pressly’s family should have to “live with a continuance.”
Vance remained silent during the short hearing. He recently filed a handwritten motion to Piazza, asking his lawyers be removed. When Piazza asked if Vance wanted it withdrawn, he simply shook his head “yes.”
Vance has pleaded not guilty to capital murder and other charges stemming from Pressly’s death. Pressly’s mother found her daughter severely beaten after she missed a wake-up call at her Little Rock home. Pressly never regained consciousness and died at a hospital Oct. 25.
Police worked for weeks without a named suspect until a DNA sample taken from Pressly’s home matched an unsolved rape case from Marianna, about 90 miles east of Little Rock. Detectives singled out Vance as a suspect, as he was seen loitering around homes that had been robbed in the small Delta town.
If convicted, Vance would face either the death penalty or a life sentence. Prosecutors have yet to say whether they’ll seek death for Vance, though they filed a statement with the court Monday listing reasons why the death penalty could be used. Those reasons include the Marianna rape that Vance is charged with, an alleged attack on his girlfriend and that Pressly died in an “especially cruel or depraved manner.” Vance has pleaded not guilty to the rape charge.
A pretrial hearing in the Pressly case will be Oct. 6.