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Trial Date Announced for Jasmine Pace Case

By Mason Edwards, Features Editor for the University Echo

Jason Chen is escorted into the courtroom by the court bailiff. Wednesday, October 4, 2023. Alexis McMurtry, Assistant Photo Editor

In Judge Boyd Patterson's criminal courtroom, District Attorney General Coty Wamp and Defense Attorney Joshua Weiss agreed on court dates for homicide suspect Jason Chen's upcoming appearances.

Without argument, Weiss agreed to a pre-trial date of Jan. 23 and a trial date of June 11. Originally scheduled for a Monday in June, Patterson recommended the trial be moved to Tuesday. Also, he noted that because the dates occur several months away, they could be rearranged.

Serving as a personal representative of Pace’s family, Attorney Benjamin L. McGowan explained some of the legal proceedings involved in the case. Rather than reaching a settlement, the prosecution and defense chose to move the case forward in the justice system.

Moreover, he explained why the Pace family won’t comment on proceedings.

"With pending litigation, it's mostly not a good idea for people to make statements," McGowan said. "It can interfere with the trial process, and it can create issues that make it difficult for the parties to litigate the issues in court."

Despite the session lasting around an hour, the prosecution, judge and defense made their announcements in roughly two minutes. Still, the case's major stakeholders appeared, including the affected families and Chattanooga Police Detective Zack Crawford. All three local television stations rolled out cameras, and all three panned to the suspect as he entered the room.

With shorter hair and a slimmer figure, Chen walked to his seat while escorted by bailiffs. According to McGowan, readers shouldn’t be surprised the suspect appeared, even for such a short time.

"That would be pretty typical, in a situation like this," he said. "A defendant has a right to be present when any procedural issues are heard."

Additionally, several lawyers sat behind the prosecution table, but Wamp's Public Information Officer Jay Price explained they were likely waiting for other hearings.

"There very well could have been a few other assistant district attorneys there at the time, but there's only two attorneys on the case, General Wamp and her second chair Paul Morgan." 

Judge Larry Ables presided over the general sessions court hearings, which included setting Chen’s bond and establishing probable cause. Now that the case has moved to criminal court, Patterson will oversee upcoming developments in the case.

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