Breaking News Bar

Jophlin trial reset for May

 
updated: 3/30/2014 11:53 AM

Second Circuit Court Judge Thomas J. Tedeschi set a Sept. 9 jury trial for Mary R. Zumwalt-Jophlin, accused in the 2011 death of her daughter, after vacating the May 6 trial date on Tuesday.

During the pre-trial conference, the judge said records received by the court included 200 pages of supplemental discovery answers, with more "forthcoming" for his review.

Tedeschi said he had received two motions from the Franklin County State"s Attorney Evan Owens, including the supplemental discovery answers, and the other for the defense to produce psychiatric and psychological tests, scientific reports and statements pertaining to the mental state of Zumwalt-Jophlin.

Defense attorney Terry M. Green said he had received copies of the state"s motions but had not had time to review the information with his client. Green requested that the May trial date be vacated, without objection from Owens who said he had discussed the matter with Green.

Tedeschi said while he understood the position of both attorneys, he said the state wants to get the matter resolved.

The judge said there is a lot to finish up in the case. Tedeschi said he wants to check the status every 30 days.

Green said his client continues to waive her right to a speedy trial.

Jophlin is accused of murdering her 8-year-old daughter Alexus "Lexi" Smothers, whose body was found July 19, 2011 in the basement of a West Frankfort home.

Owens filed charges on July 21, 2011, alleging that Jophlin concealed the homicidal death of her daughter, knowing that Smothers died by homicidal means.

He said the defendant without lawful justification drowned Smothers with the use of her hands, water, another object, or a combination thereof, knowing such act created a strong probability of death or great bodily harm to Alexus Smothers, thereby causing her death.

Citing aggravating factors, Owens said the murder was accompanied by exceptionally brutal or heinous behavior indicative of wanton cruelty. He later amended the charge, saying factors exist to extend the sentence, should Jophlin be found guilty.

Owens also filed one count of obstructing justice on July 21, 2011 after Jophlin knowingly furnished false information to West Frankfort police officers A.J. Wilmore and John Prudent.

The count alleges that Jophlin reported Smothers was missing while knowing that she was lying dead in the basement of a residence located at 1704 E. Oak St. in West Frankfort.

On Tuesday, Tedeschi said the case would be heard regardless of other issues that could arise as jury selection begins on Sept. 9 at 9:30 a.m. Tedeschi said that would provide "ample time to make sure witnesses are here and ample time to get issues resolved."

A final pre-trial has been set for Aug. 26 at 1:30 p.m., with a status hearing slated for April 29 at 1:30 p.m.

At the request of Green, Tedeschi also vacated the April 24 court date.

 
 
Search Carbondale Times