New witness interviews force prosecution to drop chargesby Jessica Mador, Minnesota Public Radio
St. Paul, Minn. — The charges against Ken Dillard in the shooting of a 14-year-old girl have been dismissed.
Dillard, 17, is accused of shooting Charez Jones outside a North Minneapolis birthday party last summer.
Jury selection was already underway for the trial, which was expected to begin this week.
The charges were dismissed after the defense disclosed new witness interviews at the last minute.
Prosecutors asked the judge for more time to go over the new evidence before the start of the trial. The judge granted them a day-and-half for further investigation.
Deputy Hennepin County Attorney Pat Diamond said the delay was insufficient, forcing them to ask that the charges be dismissed "without prejudice," meaning they can be refiled.
Diamond said he's sorry for the family, but they had no choice.
"I can understand their frustration, the other side didn't play by the rules. A continuance was the appropriate course of action here and it didn't happen. Hopefully we can be back at and recharge and move forward on this case," said Diamond.
One of the attorneys representing Dillard, Carol Batsell Benner, said Diamond's comments are misleading to the public.
"We did play by the rules," said Batsell Benner. "We gave them all of the information we had."
Batsell Benner acknowledged that defense attorneys didn't initially give prosecutors three interviews, but said the interviews were with witnesses known to prosecutors. She said she accepts the judge's ruling, which said the interviews weren't disclosed in a timely manner.
The Hennepin County attorney's office says prosecutors plan to file new charges against Ken Dillard as soon as they review the new evidence.
Editor's note: This story previously incorrectly reported the reason Hennepin County prosecutors dropped charges in last summer's shooting death of 14-year-old Charez Jones. We said it was because Ken Dillard's defense team introduced an alibi witness at the last minute.
Prosecutors did decide to drop charges after challenging defense interviews disclosed on Tuesday. However, Dillard's attorneys did not introduce an alibi defense.
Comments from the defense attorney were not originally available and were later added to the story.