John Brown is the only one of the seven men who has been formally charged since the arrests took place on Oct. 6. DA office spokesman Brian Buckelew said that prosecutors will soon decide whether to press charges against the other men, who have all been released. Brown remains in custody, according to his attorney, Deputy Public Defender Michael Fox.
Brown and six others stood up in court when a witness in a murder trial was asked to identify the alleged shooter, defendant Charles Heard, who has been accused of killing a man over a medallion depicting The Flintstones
character Bamm-Bamm. Assistant DA Michael Swart immediately called the move "out-and-out intimidation of a witness" and ordered them arrested. Eric Safire, Heard's defense attorney, said he had asked the men to stand to ensure a more fair identification process for his client, who was seated at the defense table in jail-issue orange clothes.
Buckelew rejected that explanation outright. "The notion that this was done as a way to safeguard Charles Heard's rights is ridiculous," he said. "I don't see how it would be remotely effective for the reason for which he did it." However, Fox said there's still a valid question as to why the men stood up in court: "The DA thinks it was an act of intimidation. The whole argument was, what was the act intended to do?" Fox said he was not yet aware what felony charge Brown had been put on probation for.
Safire and a private investigator working with him, Steve Vender, are also caught up in a more recent controversy. Prosecutors allege that Vender persuaded the victim in an attempted-murder trial not to testify against defendant Phil Pitney, and the DA's office says it has begun a criminal investigation into Vender's conduct.
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