ORANGE—A Locust Grove man’s murder trial has been rescheduled for a second time due to an issue involving his defense attorney.
A 15-member jury was seated Friday in the case charging Michael Alan Humphries II, 38, with first degree murder in the Feb. 13, 2018 shooting death of 24-year-old Alistair Smith, of Unionville. The slaying took place inside Wendell’s Place Laundromat on State Route 20 in Orange County, a few miles from where Humphries, an auto mechanic, lived in Lake of Woods.
Opening statements in the trial were slated to be heard Monday morning.
But just before 4 a.m. on Monday, court-appointed defense attorney David Randle sent an email to Judge Dale Durrer and Orange County Commonwealth’s Attorney Diana O’Connell informing them he had unexpectedly been admitted to the hospital.
Durrer made the announcement from the bench to more than a dozen witnesses who had been subpoenaed to testify, including three civilian witnesses, all females, from the laundromat.
The judge did not have details of Mr. Randle’s medical issue, but said he would be hospitalized for 24 to 48 hours. “We’re not going to be able to go forward today,” Durrer said.
The trial was continued until Wednesday, Oct. 2. Assembling the jury in the box before him, Durrer again explained the situation and instructed them to return to hear the case at 8:45 a.m.
“These things happen and there is nothing we can do about it,” the judge said. “It’s beyond any of our control.”
Durrer wished Mr. Randle the best with his health issues and convened the case, dismissing the jury and witnesses, including various investigators and Orange County Sheriff Mark Amos.
The county’s top prosecutor, Mrs. O’Connell, is dealing with her own health issues after recently breaking her foot when she tripped over her black cat inside her home. On Friday, she was in a wheelchair.
On Monday, O’Connell got around with the help of a rolling scooter, her injured leg propped up on a cushion. She expects to call three dozen witnesses at trial.
In April, less than three weeks before Humphries was slated to go on trial the first time, he requested and was granted a new attorney. Court-appointed lawyer Adam Rhea initially represented the murder suspect and had requested a mental evaluation, which was granted, before the trial was scheduled to start April 29.
But during a pre-trial hearing, Humphries told the court he could no longer communicate with Rhea and needed a new attorney due to ineffective counsel. Durrer granted the request, appointing Randle, who had around five months to build his defense. After turning himself in, Humphries told police he believed Smith, the alleged victim, and his wife were having an affair.