Fla. brothers' trial is delayed until June 3 charged in slayings of 2 Columbia men

December 02, 1998|By Del Quentin Wilber | Del Quentin Wilber,SUN STAFF The Observer of New Smyrna Beach and the News-Journal of Daytona Beach contributed to this article.

The trial of three Florida brothers accused of savagely killing two Columbia men on spring break this year will be delayed until June because prosecutors and defense attorneys are seeking DNA evidence.

In a hearing Monday, a Florida judge granted a request by prosecutors to test the blood of the three men charged in the April slayings of Kevans Hall II, 23, and Matthew Wichita, 21, at a resort in New Smyrna Beach, Fla.

That judge also ordered, at the request of defense attorneys, blood samples from two men who have pleaded guilty to attempted murder charges in the slayings, officials said.

DNA testing could help establish who attacked the victims at the bloody crime scene.

Because DNA analysis takes several months at a state crime lab -- and defense attorneys wanted extra time to prepare their case -- Judge Shawn Briese rescheduled the trial from its original January date.

The delay, which is not surprising in Florida homicide trials, shocked relatives of the slain men.

"I'd like to get this over with," said Delia Hall, Kevans Hall's grandmother. "I wake up every day and think about it. Don't tell me I have to go through this for another six months."

Florida prosecutors could not be reached for comment nor could attorneys representing the accused brothers: Jonathan Trull, 27, Christopher Trull, 25, and Joshua Trull, 18.

Police said that the three men -- and several others -- stabbed and beat Hall and Wichita on April 16. The attack left another Columbia man, Seth Qubeck, 21, seriously injured with 17 stab wounds.

The three victims and two other Columbia men were visiting New Smyrna for nine days. The Columbia men came to the aid of a woman who was being harassed by a group of Florida men earlier that day, police said. Hours later, the Florida men returned, police said, with baseball bats and knives.

Four men involved in that attack have pleaded guilty and are expected to testify against the remaining three, officials have said.

Defense attorneys requested blood samples of those four, but the judge would grant tests only for Neil Kirkland, 20, and Daniel Osborne, 19. Kirkland pleaded guilty to attempted first-degree murder, and Osborne pleaded guilty to principal to first-degree murder and no contest in the beating of Qubeck.

None of the men has been sentenced.

The judge also granted extra time to defense attorneys who requested it to interview out-of-state witnesses, some in Maryland.

Pub Date: 12/02/98

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