The Little Rock police officer fired from the force and charged with manslaughter after shooting a teenage suspect last year has withdrawn his motion to have the trial moved because of pretrial publicity.
An attorney for Josh Hastings said at a hearing Tuesday in Pulaski County Circuit Court that Hastings had opted not to seek a change of venue after all, noting Hastings was a Little Rock officer and the shooting happened in the city.
"He wants this trial to remain in Pulaski County," attorney Lee Short told Judge Wendell Griffen.
Hastings' attorneys on Tuesday also told the judge they will argue "general denial" of the crime as their defense because they are barred from arguing justification as defense in a manslaughter case.
Hastings is accused of fatally shooting 15-year-old Bobby Moore in August 2012 while responding to a report of Moore and two other teens breaking into vehicles at a Little Rock apartment complex. Hastings says he opened fire while Moore drove a vehicle toward him, but police investigators said evidence and witness statements called that account into question. Prosecutors contended the vehicle was not moving toward Hastings at the time.
Hastings was charged with a single count of manslaughter in September and formally dismissed from the police department the next month. A trial earlier this year ended in a hung jury, and Griffen set a Sept. 16 date for the start of the retrial.
Several other motions were discussed or ruled upon during Tuesday's hearing, which marked the final scheduled hearing before the trial date.
Among them, Griffen ordered that the defense cannot argue that Moore and the youths with him "did not want to get caught" until after the shots were fired. It was at that point the two other teens in the car fled. Griffen said there was nothing to show the group was fleeing in the car before Hastings opened fire.
"There was not a scintilla of evidence to show the juveniles ... were in the process of trying to escape anything or trying to evade anything at the time they were encountered by the defendant," Griffen said.
Griffen also denied motions from the defense to allow presenting to the jury that the car the teens were in was stolen or that Moore had previously stolen a vehicle at gunpoint. And, he said, he would rule before Friday on a defense request he reconsider how jury selection will be conducted. Griffen previously said he will perform the questioning rather than having the lawyers from either side do it.
Hastings didn't speak during the hearing, but his father, Little Rock Police Department Capt. Terry Hastings, passed out a statement from the family afterward. It said Josh Hastings was "wrongfully charged" and that the teens were trying to run him over when he opened fire.
"The charges could not be proven in the first trial and we have to continue fighting this injustice," the statement said.