Oct. 4-Second District Judge Mark Monson suppressed testimony from some defense witnesses in the jury trial of James R. Brashear.
Monson made rulings on pretrial motions Monday at the Nez Perce County Courthouse in Lewiston, deciding to not allow witnesses to testify about abuse allegedly committed by the victim, John Mast. Monson said the testimony was not relevant and hearsay. He also said that it could potentially confuse jurors and make a jury think Mast got what he deserved and set up a "trial within a trial" where the victim was on trial instead of the defendant. However, Monson said that defense attorney Christopher Bugbee could appeal the decision.
Monson didn't rule on limiting the testimony of Brashear, 68, and his state of mind before the shooting of Mast in February 2021. He said he would wait to hear from the prosecution and defense on potential testimony before making a decision, including a video interview of Brashear after the shooting.
Brashear, of Winchester, is charged with first-degree murder in the shooting of Mast in the Rosauers parking lot. Mast was Brashear's former son-in-law and was in a custody dispute with his daughter, Rebecca Brashear-Mast, over their children, who are Brashear's grandchildren. Mast was accused of abusing the children, but no charges were filed.
Nez Perce County Chief Deputy Prosecutor April Smith raised the same question Monson asked concerning the relevancy of the testimony and the potential reaction of the jury to the allegations against Mast.
"We are here because the defendant committed first-degree murder," Smith said, adding that Brashear is the person on trial, not Mast.
Bugbee argued that the witnesses corroborate Brashear's state of mind, which would prove he was reacting emotionally and not premeditated, which would rule out first-degree murder. Bugbee said that without those witnesses, Brashear would have to rely on his own testimony to prove his state of mind. He also said the defense doesn't need to prove the allegations against Mast were true, but that Brashear thought they were.
"If you exclude this evidence, you exclude his defense," Bugbee said.
The final pretrial hearing is scheduled for Oct. 26 and the jury trial is planned for Nov. 7.
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