An Arizona judge, Tom Gillert, has ruled that Prosecutors may use the transcribed testimony of Allen Shields, a dead witness, in the upcoming murder-for-hire killing conspiracy trial of Neal Sweeney, a Tulsa man.
According to Tulsa World, Shields, 34, was a former co-defendant in the case who entered into a plea bargain and testified against the four remaining defendants at a preliminary hearing in October 2010. Shields died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound following a standoff with police in April 2011.
Lawyers for Mohammed Aziz, one of the four remaining defendants, filed a motion challenging the use of Shield’s transcribed testimony. But the transcript can be read to the jurors because the testimony of an “unavailable” witness can be used if the witness was previously cross-examined at a prior proceeding in the case.
Though the ruling technically applies only to Aziz’s case, prosecutors said they believe it would also apply to the cases of his three co-defendants.