The trial for 26-year-old James Lee Prothro III of Carrollton, 21-year-old Lance Timothy Thomas Jr. and 23-year-old Tony Ray Smith, both of Ohio, was rescheduled for September.
Assistant District Attorney Anne Allen said the trial was scheduled for the Aug. 9 trial week, but the medical examiner was not available. She said the trial could not go on the Aug. 23 trial calendar because she had already set another trial for that week.
“The trial therefore got moved to the next available week, which is Sept. 20,” she said.
Smith’s attorney, Mac Pilgrim, said the delay was also to allow Thomas’ attorney, John Rasnick, an opportunity to be brought up to speed on the case because he was among the last to get involved. He said the attorneys anticipate a non-jury resolution to the case.
Pilgrim said details of the plea agreement have not finalized, but expects a deal to be made shortly before the trial date.
“I believe they [the district attorney’s office] would not make that offer official until then,” he said.
The suspects were charged with malice murder, felony murder, aggravated assault and burglary following the shooting deaths of 53-year-old David Nixon and family friend Michael Deon Cruver on Dec. 24, 2008, at Nixon’s home.
A fourth suspect in the case, Robert Andre Robinson, pleaded guilty to two counts of felony murder in February and was sentenced to two terms of life in prison.
“We anticipate a plea from my client as well,” Pilgrim said. “We anticipate something short of a trial for Mr. Smith. If we can’t work it out, we would be ready to go to trial.”
He believes evidence will show that his client did not participate in the planning of the robbery or have any involvement in the events that led to the deaths Nixon and Cruver. He said Smith was an unwilling participant, citing an interview Robinson gave to Carrollton police Lt. James Perry.
In the interview, Pilgrim said, Robinson told Perry that Smith did not know about the robbery until the last minute. He said his client ran out and got in the car just before the other co-defendants, who were already in the vehicle, left to go to the scene.
When previously asked about the interview, Perry declined to comment, keeping with a department policy regarding pending cases.
Prothro’s attorney, Carroll County Public Defender John Howe, declined comment Tuesday. Thomas’ attorney, John Rasnick, could not be reached for comment Tuesday.