Prosecutors today filed charges of second-degree murder and endangerment against an ex-Chandler police officer directly into court, which may be an indication a grand jury refused to indict him, the ex-officer's defense attorney said.
The charges come a week after Judge James Keppel ordered the case back to the grand jury after finding that a Chandler police detective gave misleading information about victim Dawn Rae Nelson's body position to the panel that indicted Daniel Lovelace in November.
Since prosecutors filed the charges directly into court, it now will be up to a judge to hold a preliminary hearing, which is a mini-trial of sorts, to determine whether there is probable cause for Daniel Lovelace to stand trial. Lovelace's initial appearance is scheduled for Tuesday, defense attorney Craig Mehrens said.
Lovelace shot and killed 35-year-old Nelson on Oct. 11 when she tried to run from him during a criminal investigation. The ex-officer said he was in fear for his life because Nelson had turned her car towards him as she fled and that he was facing her when he fired his handgun.
Prosecutors said, however, that the fatal bullet entered Nelson from the rear and that witnesses said they saw Lovelace chase the fleeing car before firing. In his ruling to send the case back to the grand jury, Keppel said an accurate presentation of Nelson's body position was important because the incident happened quickly. Maricopa County Attorney spokesman Bill FitzGerald declined to comment on the status of the case.
Mehrens said he does not know if the grand jury refused to indict Lovelace, but if it that is so, then that should have been the end of case.