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Indianapolis officer’s hearing draws crowd

Venue change in deadly DWI case expands media

– They set up shop just off the steps on the top floor.

Some hauled cameras and microphones. Others wielded notebooks, yellow legal pads and pens. The reporters dressed in snappy suits and overcoat. The cameramen chose a more casual route – jeans and jackets emblazoned with their respective television logos.

And they all stared, for a long time, at a set of double doors down a hallway inside the Allen County Courthouse on Friday.

The gaggle of reporters and cameramen was there to catch glimpses of embattled Indianapolis police officer David Bisard, whom they had already followed through the halls of the courthouse that day. They were now gearing up for Round 2.

Bisard, who is charged with felony counts of drunken driving, reckless homicide and criminal recklessness, made his first appearance in Allen County since his case was moved to Fort Wayne last month because of the intense media coverage in Marion County.

Friday’s troupe of media was made up of television stations and newspapers from both Fort Wayne and Indianapolis.

The hearing within the courtroom was subdued.

Lawyers and Allen Superior Court Judge John Surbeck, who is now presiding over the case, set up some deadlines for evidence to be shared and went over some technicalities.

Bisard is accused of being on duty and in his patrol car when he plowed into three motorcycles stopped at a red light one night in August 2010. One of the motorcyclists died; two others were critically injured.

A blood draw showed that the officer’s blood-alcohol content was 0.19 percent at the time of the crash, more than double the legal limit of 0.08 percent.

In the ensuing months, those results were thrown out as inadmissible but then brought back again.

Friday, both prosecutors and defense attorneys said discovery – the sharing of evidence between prosecutors and defense lawyers – had not yet been completed, which somewhat troubled Surbeck.

“It’s disconcerting that after two years we’re still having new discovery come up,” he said.

Surbeck set a deadline for all evidence to be shared by May 1, a deadline for all motions to be filed by May 31 and then set a tentative trial date for Oct. 15.

While the attorneys involved said they might need four months for the trial, Surbeck cautioned them that he sees the proceedings playing out over a two- or 2 1/2 -week span.

He also said he’s leaning toward not sequestering the jury at this point.

After the hearing, Bisard and his team of attorneys spent extra time in the courtroom, appearing to either hash more things out with Surbeck or simply chat.

Meanwhile, reporters and cameramen perched themselves near the stairs.

Their cameras and pens would rise with each swing of one of the double doors to the courtroom, and then slowly lower when someone they didn’t recognize or they had no interest in walked out.

jeffwiehe@jg.net

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