The cases of Rachel Hoffman, the Pinellas police informant shot to death in May, and Cheryl Dunlap, a woman found slain in the Apalachicola National Forest in late 2007, could go to trial at the end of the year, said Chief Assistant State Attorney Jackie Fulford.
Tallahassee, Florida -- Prosecutors and public defenders in the 2nd Judicial Circuit will be spending the first part of 2009 prepping for two high-profile murder trials.
The cases of Rachel Hoffman, the 23-year-old police informant shot to death in May, and Cheryl Dunlap, the 46-year-old Crawfordville resident found slain in the Apalachicola National Forest in late 2007, could go to trial at the end of the year, said Chief Assistant State Attorney Jackie Fulford.
"We're going through the discovery process, and I expect a bunch of depositions will be taken early (this) year, but there's no trial date set. Maybe early toward the last quarter of (the) year," she said.
Two men are going on trial for killing Hoffman: Deneilo Bradshaw, 23, and Andrea Green, 26.
Suspected serial killer Gary Michael Hilton, 62, has been charged with Dunlap's abduction and murder.
All three will face the death penalty if convicted.
Prosecutors and defense attorneys have argued that publicity in both cases has been fierce. Lawyers on both sides sought the closure of pretrial evidence so as not to prejudice potential jurors in Leon County.
Lawyers for the Tallahassee Democrat and WCTV, though, have been fighting for public release of at least some of the evidence. Circuit Judge Kathleen Dekker, who presides over the Hoffman case, and Circuit Judge Terry Lewis, who presides over the Dunlap case, have mostly agreed with the defense and prosecutors.
Dekker allowed for the release of the redacted Tallahassee Police Department internal-affairs report about the botched drug operation that led to Hoffman's death, but all other evidence has remained closed from the media and the public.
Fulford said it's still possible that one or both cases will be tried elsewhere if the court is unable to seat a fair and impartial jury in Leon County.
"We'd have to move it somewhere where people hadn't heard enough about the case," she said, "and didn't have a fixed opinion about it."
Nic Corbett, Tallahassee Democrat