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Status hearing, trial date set for Martese Johnson

Defense says delay is unjust

At a hearing Thursday the Charlottesville General District Court set the trial date in the case of rising fourth-year College student Martese Johnson, charged with obstruction of justice and public intoxication, for Sep. 30.

Both Johnson and his attorney Daniel Watkins, of Williams Mullen, expressed disappointment in the elongation of the process.

“Justice too long delayed is justice denied, and that’s why we have petitioned the court to dismiss the charges against him,” Watkins said.

Watkins requested the earliest possible day for the trial date. A status hearing will be held June 12, at which time the Commonwealth will decide whether to dismiss charges against Johnson or to confirm witnesses.

The trial may last two days — an unusual situation for misdemeanor charges — due to the national attention and allegations of police brutality the case involves.

Last week, the Commonwealth requested additional time to decide whether to move forward to drop the charges. This delay added to a total of 70 days since the incident took place in the early hours of March 18 outside Trinity Irish Pub.

“We believe that it’s in Mr. Johnson’s best interests to petition the court to dismiss the charges based on a lack of reasonable suspicion to detain and and subsequently arrest Johnson,” Watkins said.

Johnson expressed his gratitude for his supporters and optimism about the outcome of the case.

“I hope that in near future this process will end, [it has] endured a bit longer than what we’ve all expected,” Johnson said. “But I believe justice will be served at the end of the day and I hope that you all will stand with me through that.”

Johnson will be starting an internship on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. next week as he prepares for the status hearing.

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