Amanda Dawn Carmack’s ongoing murder trial will not resume as scheduled on Wednesday, according to court records.
Grant County Circuit Court Judge Mark Spitzer declared the ongoing case a mistrial late Monday due to a COVID-19 outbreak. The court previously decided to take a week-long break following a COVID-19 outbreak detected a few days into witness testimony.
A mistrial is not a dismissal. The charges against Carmack remain. Grant County Prosecutor Rodney Faulk said he intends to seek another jury trial regarding the case. No jury trial date has been set as of deadline Monday.
Spitzer said he was notified Monday that a spouse of an individual associated with the trial tested positive for COVID-19 on Nov. 1, which would cause the trial to be further delayed.
“The individual is a critical participant in the trial,” Spitzer said. “Under the CDC Guidelines, the individual would need to quarantine for a period of 14 days after the expiration of the spouse’s 10-day isolation period – a total of 24 days.”
Spitzer said his decision to grant a mistrial stemmed from Indiana Supreme Court precedent that sets a standard for appropriate delay in the midst of a trial.
“Based upon the five-part test set out in (Bell v. State), the Court finds that another delay, particularly of such magnitude, is inappropriate,” Spitzer wrote in his order Monday. “The Court further finds under the circumstances that there is a manifest necessity to grant a mistrial in the case.…”
Spitzer noted that the defense objected to the decision to grant a mistrial.
“The Court makes such Order … with full appreciation that all parties, attorneys, jurors, and, indeed, the Court, would have preferred to complete the trial if it were possible to do so timely, safely and within the bounds of fundamental fairness,” Spitzer wrote. “The Court commends counsel for their extensive preparation and effective presentation of evidence and arguments, and commends the jurors for their patience and careful attentiveness. These efforts were all the more commendable as they occurred in the throes of a pandemic.”
Spitzer set a pretrial conference to take place on Nov. 30, 2020 at 1:30 p.m. in Grant County Circuit Court, where all parties involved will discuss how the case will proceed.
The jury trial that was just canceled originally began on Monday, Oct. 19, when 12 jurors and two alternate jurors were selected successfully. Three full days of testimony were completed before the court decided to take a one-week-long break due to a COVID-19 outbreak.
During the three days of testimony, the jury heard a taped confession, the results of a polygraph exam as well as multiple witnesses called by the prosecutors. The court case was cut short before the prosecution could call all of their witnesses, and the defense never had a chance to call any witnesses to the stand.
This story will be updated once more information is available about the future of the trial.