Baseball Bat Murder Trial Set for October
The capital murder trial of an Aberdeen man accused of killing his wife with a baseball bat while she slept has been set for October.
Moore County sheriff's deputies charged Bobby L. Chavis with first-degree murder in the July 26, 2006, death of Audrey Stevens Chavis, then 33. Senior Resident Superior Court Judge James M. Webb set the trial date for Oct. 6 and gave attorneys until Aug. 29 to file pretrial motions in the case.
Webb allowed -- over objections by the county attorney -- a motion by District Attorney Maureen Krueger for records of the Division of Social Services and health records. Brenda White, appearing for the county, objected that these records and child-support files could contain confidential health information protected by law. She cited state statutes and HIPA regulations.
Chavis' attorneys had filed notice of a diminished-capacity and intentional-intoxication defense, Krueger said. The state would need access to his medical records. Defense attorney Arthur Denadio did not oppose the state's motion.
Webb allowed the motion with one covenant: Photocopies were to be made for use by attorneys, with the originals preserved for use by the court at trial "as needed."
The judge also granted Denadio's motion for a "bill of particulars" that would cite any aggravating factors alleged by the state in seeking the death penalty. Krueger objected, saying the previous Rule 24 hearing provided sufficient notice.
Webb agreed that any other aggravating factors suggested by evidence at trial could also be used, as Krueger asked.
In death penalty cases, there can be two phases. In the first, a jury decides whether the defendant is guilty or not guilty of first-degree murder. If it returns a guilty verdict, the same jurors hear evidence in a second phase and decide whether to recommend life without parole or death. Their recommendation is binding.
Family members of Audrey Chavis were in court for the hearing, sitting grim-faced on front rows in the center of the courtroom. Chavis, a slight, balding man with a full beard, had little visible reaction to the proceedings.
Contact John Chappell at 783-5841 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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