Prosecutor Deters defends handling of Tensing case despite second mistrial

Prosecutor Deters defends handling of Tensing case despite second mistrial (FILE PHOTO: The Enquirer/ Cara Owsley)

CINCINNATI (WKRC) - Hamilton County's prosecutor defended his office's handling of Ray Tensing's case Wednesday, more than a week after the second trial ended in a mistrial.

Tensing is charged with murder and voluntary manslaughter in the death of Sam Dubose during a traffic stop two years ago. Deters discussed the case for the first time since the mistrial on 700 WLW with his friend of many years, Bill Cunningham.

"To say that prosecutors overreached, that's idiotic. It's idiotic," Deters said in response to criticism that his office overcharged Tensing.

Deters said the grand jury chose to indict Tensing on murder and voluntary manslaughter charges after a judge advised them of a number of charges they could consider including murder, voluntary manslaughter, reckless homicide and negligent homicide. Deters also responded to Stew Mathews' claim that his client turned down an offer to plead guilty to reckless homicide.

"He said he wasn't going to plead guilty to a felony wasn't going to plead to anything because he thinks he's not guilty as do I," Mathews told Local 12 News late last week.

Deters said he and Mathews had a quick conversation on the street one day about some use-of-force experts believing Tensing's actions were reckless before the second trial started. However, in the middle of the trial, Tensing was asked in Judge Ghiz's chambers whether he'd plead guilty to reckless homicide and he said no. Deters said his office made the offer to spare the Dubose family pain with the consideration that the jury may see the evidence differently.

"It could have indicated recklessness because of what he had done. It could have indicated that. My feeling on the whole case hasn't changed but I know reasonable people could disagree with that," Deters said.

Deters was also critical of Judge Leslie Ghiz's rulings. For example, she allowed Tensing's attorney to repeatedly bring up Dubose selling marijuana, his 13 children, and his poor health. But Mathews said he was barred from bringing in additional information about Dubose including his toxicology test results and his past arrests. Deters complained prosecutors were not allowed to question Tensing about his character.

Meanwhile, Deters said he hasn't decided whether the case will be tried a third time.

"No one has won and no one has lost. Both cases have hung. And we’ve got to decide if there is a likelihood of success at trial. That's my only issue now," Deters said.

Deters also said the time has passed for additional charges to be added to the indictment. Those charges would had to have been added up to 270 days after the indictment was issued.

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