Jacksonville Man Still Waiting for Murder Trial 7 Years On
A man who allegedly shot his friend nearly seven years ago is still in jail waiting for a trial that never seems to come. He has pleaded not guilty and his argument is that he shot the other man in self defense, but it seems that it has been hard to sort out the best way to defend him.
Harold Hammond is now 54 years old and has been talking with his sixth defense attorney since his arrest in 2009 for the murder of his friend, Kenneth Solada. It appears that Hammond and Solada were arguing over drugs and money in a mobile home in Westside. Prosecutors have alleged that Hammond shot two bullets into Solada’s head during the argument and then hid the weapon. He was arrested on an unrelated charge of stealing meat from a Food Lion, not far from the mobile home a few hours after the shooting. Police laid a second charge of 2nd degree murder against Hammond three weeks after the initial arrest.
Hammond insists that he did not murder Solada, but fired the shots in self defense when the argument got heated. The weapon apparently belonged to Solada, not Hammond.
7 years waiting for a trial, while not unknown in U.S. legal history, is well beyond the average for a second degree murder charge. According to one veteran prosecutor, the average length of time taken before a trial takes place is 18 to 30 months. In the same jail as Hammond, there are several people who have been waiting for trial well beyond that period. One other inmate is still waiting for trial after his arrest in 2011.
Hammond’s sixth defense attorney says that speedy trials are the stuff of TV dramas and not reality and speeding up a defendant’s defense does not necessarily do him or her any good as it stops the chance to.
Hammond says he feels as if he is now back at square 1 in the jail and “just wants to go home.”
It seems that there are a complex variety of reasons why he is still waiting to be tried, all of which taken by themselves quite understandable and legitimate.
The first and second defense attorneys were dismissed by the circuit judge dealing with Hammond’s case because they were representing other defendants who had turned on Hammond and therefore had a conflict of interest.
Two later defense attorneys tried to file motions declaring that the defendant was “incompetent” to stand trial and needed to be sent to a state mental institution to be assessed. Apparently, both these motions were vigorously opposed by the prosecution who accused Hammond of ‘malingering”, i.e. trying to slow the trial process down unnecessarily by pretending to be mentally ill. In one case, the psychologist who had already assessed Hammond and said he had concerns about his mental state withdrew his help after listening to phone conversation between Hammond and others that had been sent to him by the prosecution.
Chief Judge Mark Mahon explained that the system was designed to allow defendants and their defense counsel sufficient time to prepare for a fair trial and if it takes seven years, then so be it. He said that one reason why some trials take a long time to take place is to prevent having to have an appellate court reverse a trial decision that had been made because the original trial had taken place too soon for all the evidence to be presented.
There are ways to speed up a trial by invoking your right to “demand speedy trial”. See our blog post, “One Trial or Two, Why It Matters”. The best criminal lawyer in Miami can tell you that it pays to know your speedy trial laws, when to waive them and when to re-invoke them to gain the best advantage in the defense of a citizen accused of a crime.
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If you have any questions about this or any other criminal accusation, call Miami Criminal Defense Lawyer Albert Quirantes at: 305-644-1800 or visit our homepage www.CriminalDefendant.com for a direct link to the office or a text message or a map and directions to our office.