Trial for 2004 murder on schedule following Thursday hearing - East Idaho News

Trial for 2004 murder on schedule following Thursday hearing

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POCATELLO — A trial for the 2004 murder of Nori Jones is expected to continue as scheduled after a change of counsel was not requested Thursday.

Brad Scott Compher, 48, was charged with first-degree murder and a deadly weapon enhancement after DNA found at the scene connected him to Jones’ murder in 2014.

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Jones was found stabbed numerous times in her home on the 3600 block of Pole Line Road, on Sept. 28, 2004. Despite an extensive investigation, the case went cold for nearly a decade before technological advancements allowed for DNA collected at the scene to be tested.

Compher, who was one of the suspects prior to the testing, was arrested in September 2014.

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During a Jan. 23 hearing, Compher raised questions about his representation and suggested he would be better off with a different attorney — even saying at one point that he considered representing himself.

District Judge Javier Gabiola asked him to meet with his lead attorney, Scott Andrew, and co-counsel Rilie Fry and Gary Proctor. Andrew told Gabiola that, if Compher’s concerns were not remedied, he would file a motion to withdraw.

RELATED | Man accused of 2004 Pocatello murder raises questions about legal representation

A determination regarding these concerns was handed down by Gabiola Thursday.

Andrew told the judge that, after the previous hearing, he spoke with his client along with Fry and Proctor about the group’s synergy. The men came to agreement that Proctor, an out-of-state death penalty specialist working the case pro hac vice — meaning he is not licensed to practice law in the state but is allowed to work the case in a limited capacity — would serve as lead counsel.

However, due to limitations, Proctor’s role as lead counsel will be to oversee the case and communicate with Compher. Andrew and Fry, both deputy public defenders, will handle the questioning of witnesses and presentation of evidence.

“I’m comfortable with where we’re at, but I want him (Compher) to be comfortable,” Andrew said.

Gabiola asked Compher if he is happy with the current situation, to which he replied he is.

Compher said that he expects Proctor to be his “eyes and ears” during the trial, which is scheduled to begin with jury voir dire on Feb. 20.

Nori Jones
Nori Jones | Facebook

“Advice letter”

With the trial continuing as planned, Gabiola took up a protection order request.

The request, filed by Andrew, was to keep from fully disclosing information the defense plans to bring to the trial from the prosecution.

The information in question was described by Andrew as an “advice letter” and not a “report” provided by a DNA specialist. The specialist, Andrew explained in court, informed the defense of a line of questioning that may raise doubt regarding DNA that links Compher to the scene.

Because doubt could be raised through questioning the prosecution’s witness, Andrew added he is not likely to call the doctor to testify.

However, because the doctor has been disclosed as a witness, whether he testifies or not, the information he brings to the trial must be disclosed, Gabiola said. The judge gave Andrew until 5 p.m. Thursday to provide the prosecution with the complete letter.

Brad Scott Compher (AKA Ralph Roy Compher)
Brad Scott Compher | Bannock County Jail

Jury pool

After sending out around 800 jury questionnaires, the pool of prospective jurors for the case was trimmed down to just over 200. During Thursday’s hearing, Andrew and prosecuting attorney Jonathan Radford exchanged “for cause” challenges further trimming the pool down.

After eliminating more than 20, the pool has been cut to about 180.

Those prospective jurors will be questioned during voir dire — on Feb. 20 — until a group of 14 — 12 jurors and two alternates — is left.

Though Compher has been charged with these crimes, it does not necessarily mean he committed them. Everyone is presumed innocent until they are proven guilty.

With the death penalty removed from consideration, if he is found guilty, Compher would face up to life in prison.