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Just a week before the second trial in the death of Vann Brown was set to take place, a judge granted a motion for continuance filed by Jason Anderson's defense counsel. The case will now be heard in six months, with Jeffery Harper's trial rescheduled for August.
Jury selection for the state's case against Jason Anderson was set to begin on Monday, with opening statements to begin the following morning. However, Jason's attorney, John Thigpen, filed a motion seeking a continuance in the trial due to a key witness being unable to attend the trial date next week. The witness, Dr. Jamie Downs, was called to the stand as one of the two witnesses subpoenaed in the trial of Justin Anderson, Jason's brother.
During that trial, Dr. Downs stated he was a board-certified forensic pathologist. The subpoena for Dr. Downs was issued on January 20, 2023, according to the document. Thigpen stated, "Dr. Downs is not absent by permission (directly or indirectly) of David Jason Anderson. David Jason Anderson expects to be able to procure the testimony of Dr. Jamie Downs at the next term of Court. The motion for continuance is not requested for purposes of delay, but to enable the defendant to procure the testimony of the absent witness."
Thigpen also listed eight grounds for the granting of the motion, including the claims that the doctor's testimony is crucial to the defense. The motion argues that Dr. Downs is unable to attend the trial next week "as he has an existing criminal subpoena for an out-of-state trial for the United States Government, and that further he is considered an essential witness for them. Furthermore, the scheduling of that predates this trial by many months." Dr. Downs, according to the motion, lives in Savannah, which Thigpen states is 126 miles away from the Coffee County Courthouse.
Last, Thigpen stated that Dr. Downs is "expected to testify as to essentially the same set of facts and issues that were presented in the case of the State of Georgia vs. Justin Joe Anderson." In his testimony during Justin's trial, Dr. Downs told jurors that his opinion was significantly different from Georgia Bureau of Investigation Medical Examiner Dr. Kraft's findings regarding Brown's cause of death. He stated that medications found in Brown's system, his BMI, enlarged heart, and alcohol level "absolutely could have played a role in his death." However, Dr. Downs also testified during cross-examination that he did agree that the death was a homicide.
This week, Judge Brooks granted the motion and new trial dates have been set for both Jason and Harper. Jason's new trial date has been scheduled for July 31, with Harper's to follow on August 29.
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