The upcoming trial of two Pennsylvania men charged in an alleged murder-for-hire scheme will have an unusual feature — two juries.
A New Castle County Superior Court judge this week granted a prosecution request to partially sever the scheduled January trial of Ryan Shover of York, Pennsylvania, and Michael Kman of Enola, Pennsylvania. In doing so, Judge Richard Cooch also granted the state's request to try the defendants simultaneously, before two separate juries.
Prosecutors said separate trials are needed because they expect co-conspirators to testify that Kman confessed to the crime and implicated Shover, meaning the defenses presented by their respective attorneys could be antagonistic.
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At the same time, prosecutors believe simultaneous trials, with two different juries being ushered in and out of the courtroom as needed, will ensure fairness while promoting judicial economy.
"The court will remove, as needed, one jury from the courtroom when evidence that is inadmissible as to a particular defendant is offered, as well as undertake other measures necessary to ensure a fair trial under the unusual procedural circumstances of a dual jury trial," Cooch wrote.
In his ruling, Cooch noted that, though unusual, dual jury trials have been approved by judges in Delaware and other states in the past.
Cooch also included model guidelines from a 2010 Connecticut law review article regarding dual jury trials suggesting that attorneys use it as a template in developing a protocol for the trial of Kman and Shover. The guidelines cover issues ranging from jury selection and instructions to courtroom layout and presenting evidence.
Kman and Shover are charged with murder, conspiracy, insurance fraud and a weapons offense in the death of Wayne Cappelli, 43.
Authorities have said Cappelli was last seen leaving a store where he worked in February 2013. His body was found two days later in a roadside ditch north of Wilmington, Delaware. Investigators believe he was beaten with a softball bat.
According to investigators, Cappelli had named another man charged in the case as the beneficiary of a $300,000 life insurance policy a few months before he was killed.