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Judge declines, for now, to delay trial due to possible COVID-19 travel restrictions
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Judge declines, for now, to delay trial due to possible COVID-19 travel restrictions

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HUNTER JONES

Hunter Jones listens during his initial appearance as he sits with his attorney, Terry Rose, on July 3. Jones is accused of killing a 2-year-old child at a day care in March.

At least for now, a Kenosha County judge has declined to postpone a homicide trial because an expert witness asked for a delay due to COVID-19 restrictions.

Hunter Jones, 24, of Kenosha, is charged with first-degree reckless homicide in the death of 2-year-old Matthew Bolinski, who Jones’ wife was babysitting at her in-home daycare. Prosecutors believe that Jones smothered the toddler while his wife was away from their home.

Jones’ trial is scheduled for Aug. 10. Jury trials have been suspended since March due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

At a hearing Thursday, defense attorney Terry Rose said the expert witness planning to testify for the defense has asked for a delay because of travel concerns. The witness, a doctor, lives in California and is concerned about the rapid growth in the number of coronavirus cases.

The expert asked that the trial be delayed until fall.

“Without (the doctor) I would not have any case here to offer in refutation to the state’s expert witnesses,” Rose said. “I believe he is absolutely essential.”

The state objected to the delay, as did the toddler’s father. “My family and I have been waiting a long time for justice,” Stephen Bolinski told the court.”We’ve been waiting for answers for a very long time.”

Judge Bruce Schroeder said he was reluctant to delay the case. “The defendant is being held in jail without a trial for all this time, the family is waiting for justice, as they call it,” Schroeder said.

He also expressed skepticism about the dangers of the virus, saying he “saw a doctor on television” who said the fatality rate for a 70-year-old was “one four-hundredths of one percent.”

Johns Hopkins University is estimating the virus fatality rate in the United States at 4.35%.

Schroeder opted to keep the trial on the schedule for Aug. 10, with a status hearing scheduled for July 27 to get additional information about the expert witness’ status and an update on pandemic protocols.

“I hope in the intervening two weeks we may get a more realistic approach to these things and try to save this trial date,” he said.

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