Jurors in the trial of murder suspect Eric Jason Lively were unexpectedly sent home this afternoon and told they don’t have to report back until next week.
Judge Christopher Wilson told the jury that attorneys must deal with some matters out of their presence and apologized for keeping them waiting 30 minutes this afternoon. Wilson didn’t give a reason for the delay, but apparently some legal issues came up during the first two days of testimony and lawyers were unable to resolve them.
Lively, 45, is accused of murdering 42-year-old Jesse Simpson by running over him with his truck on May 3 at an intersection in Shelter Cove.
Because both Friday and Monday are court holidays, the trial won’t resume again until Tuesday.
According to testimony, Simpson and Lively were long-time neighbors with a history of conflict. Shortly before Simpson was killed, Lively reported to law enforcement that he believed Simpson had burglarized his home and taken thousands in cash and some jewelry. And while working at a construction site that day, Lively reportedly ranted about his thieving neighbors and talked about killing one.
Today defense attorney Russ Clanton had been expected to cross-examine Lively’s 17-year-old daughter Emma, who testified Tuesday that her father came home with blood on his hands, shirt and truck and instructed her not to call police. She said she followed his orders, because she figured if he was in the state of mind to drive down and kill Jesse Simpson, she feared what might happen if she called authorities.
Clanton has called the incident a tragic accident, saying expert evidence will show Simpson was high on methamphetamine and was struck as he bashed Lively’s truck with a weed-whacker.
Deputy District Attorney Adrian Kamada, however, has described Simpson’s death as nothing less than first-degree murder.
Today Judge Wilson thanked jurors profusely for their time thus far, saying “You are like gold to me” because so few people are willing to serve.
Lively was arrested the day of the fatal collision and remains in Humboldt County Correctional Facility.