John David Moore Jr. says his client, 34-year-old Phillip M. Edwards, should be given a new trial or that his charges should be dismissed, since the missing evidence taints the jury’s verdict, the Columbus Dispatch reported.
But prosecutor Ron O’Brien says it’s far too soon to blame the jurors — or to talk about arranging a new trial.
"Until the sheriff’s office completes its review, there’s no reason to believe anything went awry with the jury," O’Brien told the Dispatch Thursday. "And no matter what happens, it shouldn’t affect the fact that the evidence showed that [the defendant] possessed the drugs [during his arrest in January 2016]."
Moore said the jury quickly deemed Edwards guilty, "so they could get out of the Franklin County courthouse before it was noticed that the oxycodone pills were missing."
While the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office continues to investigate and review surveillance footage, officials have begun discussing how to better handle drug evidence during jury deliberations.
Surprisingly enough, none of the other samples, which included a sizable amount of heroin and methamphetamines, did not go missing, O’Brien added.
The pills were first marked as missing when the manila envelope stored inside a locked box, which is also kept inside a locked courthouse office, was discovered empty on July 21, a day after the trial concluded.
Considering the jury took two breaks during deliberations, the pills could have been left unattended, which would have allowed the culprit to make it out with the drugs in hand.
"I’m not making them the bad guys for letting this happen," Moore, not wanting to place blame on the judge or prosecutor, informed the paper. "But let’s all be good guys and let this guy go and make sure this doesn’t happen again."