After a local judge denied a move in the case against Joshua Cochran to suppress evidence, a second attempt to get certain elements removed from the consideration of a jury is underway.
As the trial date inches closer in the criminal case against Cochran, who stands accused of killing 10-year-old Renay Jenkins with his vehicle and fleeing the scene in 2018, legal moves are being made that will shape court proceedings.
In January, a hearing was held regarding a motion to suppress filed by Cochran’s attorney, Stephanie Doran. That motion aimed to suppress blood draws and statements made by Cochran following the incident but was denied by Howard Superior II Judge Brant Parry. However, that denial now is being challenged and may be undertaken by the Indiana Court of Appeals.
The legal back-and-forth in the criminal case against Cochran centers on two factors: blood samples taken after the Kokomo man was apprehended shortly after allegedly striking Jenkins with his vehicle and statements he made to police during that same period.
At the beginning of the year, Doran challenged the ability of prosecutor’s to utilize both the statements he made and the results of the blood draw that he took, which eventually gave way to Cochran being charged with causing death when operating while intoxicated with a schedule I or II controlled substance in his blood, a level 5 felony. He also was charged with leaving the scene of an accident resulting in death, a level 5 felony; leaving the scene of an accident after committing OWI, a level 3 felony; and possession of marijuana, a class B misdemeanor.
During a hearing, Doran argued that the blood draws were obtained unlawfully and that officers at the scene failed to advise Cochran of his right to consult with counsel before asking him to consent to a blood draw. Through similar means, she also sought to strike statements made by Cochran where he allegedly admitted to hitting Jenkins with his vehicle and leaving the scene.
Parry, however, did not agree with Doran’s arguments and denied the motion to suppress. But now she’s looking to take the issue to another court after seeking an interlocutory appeal, which would allow her to revisit the issue before the Indiana Court of Appeals.
In her motion, Doran argued that “Cochran will suffer substantial expense, damage, or injury if the order is erroneous and the determination of the error is withheld until after judgment. If the trial court erred by denying either motion, the error will constitute reversible error on appeal as Cochran’s blood draw results and incriminating statements are substantial evidence of his intoxication. Without this evidence, the state’s case as to the most severe charge, a level 3 felony, is considerably weaker. If Cochran is forced to wait until direct appeal to raise the suppression issues and is correct on at least one of them, he will suffer “the unnecessary expense of a trial first.”
If the interlocutory appeal is successful, the motions to suppress still could succeed in removing either Cochran’s statements or the blood test results from a jury trial.
The Howard County Prosecutor’s Office argued against allowing for an interlocutory appeal.
“It is the state’s position that the defendant has not shown he will incur substantial expense or damage if the order is erroneous and that the determination of an error is withheld until after judgment nor will an early determination promote a more orderly disposition of the case,” read the prosecutor’s motion against an interlocutory appeal.
Parry ultimately granted the motion for interlocutory appeal, subject to the Court of Appeal’s acceptance of the matter.
The jury trial for the case is set for Aug. 11.