The oft-delayed murder trial of former DeKalb County police officer Robert “Chip” Olsen will be on hold a little while longer.
DeKalb Superior Court Judge LaTisha Dear Jackson, just appointed last week after three judges recused themselves, consulted Friday with the defense and prosecutors to compare their future availability to her calendar. She said she would set a date within the next week.
Based on those conversations, the trial appears likely to begin this summer, in either June or July. There’s a slim chance it could start as early as March 11, but Dear Jackson admitted in court Friday she knew little about the case other than the defendant was a former cop facing murder charges.
March 9 marks the fourth anniversary of the death of Afghanistan War veteran Anthony Hill, shot twice by Olsen after the officer said Hill ran toward him and ignored commands to stop.
Prosecutors say Hill, who had stripped naked — a reaction to his decision to stop taking a drug prescribed for his bipolar disorder — approached Olsen in hopes the officer would help him.
Jury selection was supposed to start Monday in this high-profile case but was interrupted after Judge J.P. Boulee recused himself. His name was listed as a sponsor on a flyer distributed by DeKalb District Attorney Sherry Boston, who was the presenter of a 5K run to benefit the Women’s Resource Center to End Domestic Violence. With Boston’s office prosecuting the Olsen case, Boulee made the decision to step aside, saying judges must disqualify themselves from cases in which their impartiality might reasonably be questioned.
Two judges subsequently selected at random by court administrators promptly passed, citing potential conflicts of interest. Dear Jackson, elected last year to succeed the retiring Daniel Coursey, a 36-year veteran of the DeKalb bench, was next up and seized the assignment.
In 2008, she made history by becoming both the first female and the youngest person to serve as a Municipal Court Judge in the city of Stone Mountain, where she was chief judge at the time of her election to the DeKalb Superior Court.
Now she’ll be presiding over a trial likely to receive national media attention. Eventually.
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