Trial for officer charged with murder will stay in Portsmouth

Posted at 11:32 PM, Jan 05, 2016
and last updated 2016-01-05 23:32:28-05

Portsmouth, Va. - The trial of a former Portsmouth police officer charged with murder will stay in Portsmouth.

Judge Johnny Morrison ruled on several motions Tuesday in the case of Stephen Rankin.

Rankin’s lawyers argued he could not get a fair trial in the city.

Rankin is charged with first-degree murder after he shot and killed 18-year-old William Chapman during a confrontation in a Portsmouth Walmart parking lot in April 2015.

He was arrested and charged in September.

The high-profile case has led to protests and what Rankin's lawyers say is a divide in the community.

“I'm not going to throw a whole jury pool out because I'm afraid they may be afraid to go back to their neighborhood if they make a certain decision,” Judge Morrison said.

Judge Morrison also granted the Commonwealth's motion to exclude Chapman's juvenile record, which the defense says shows he was violent.

The judge also set a deadline for defense lawyers to have experts in Washington state complete an independent analysis of the Taser for 15 days after they receive it.

Rankin's attorneys say the Taser was recording when the confrontation turned into gunfire.

But the crucial few seconds during the shooting are missing.

Rankin sat in court, along with his wife.

They were married in June, 2015, two months after the shooting.

NewsChannel 3 learned she was part of the medical team that responded to the scene of the shooting to help Chapman.

Defense lawyers asked that she not be called to testify during the trial and the judge agreed.

The judge also denied a motion to allow Rankin to travel outside of Virginia.

Rankin's trial is set for March 21.


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