David Whitlock during his pre-trial hearing on September 11.
LOUISVILLE (WAVE) - David Whitlock, the Jefferson County Constable accused of shooting a suspected shoplifter at a Wal-Mart store in Pleasure Ridge Park last November, was back in front of a judge for a pre-trial conference.
Whitlock passed on a plea deal offered to him by the Commonwealth's Attorney's office late in August. He said that he was innocent and wants to face a jury trial. The first step in that process began on Tuesday as Whitlock appeared before Judge Brian Edwards.
Whitlock is charged with assault second degree and first degree wanton endangerment after shooting Tammie Ortiz during a confrontation outside of the store in the 7100 block of Raggard Road on November 2, 2011. Had he accepted the plea deal offered to him, Whitlock would have had to plead guilty to assault under extreme emotional disturbance. Although he would have avoided any jail time, Whitlock would have been placed in a diversion program.
But taking the plea deal meant Whitlock would also lose his position as a Jefferson County Constable. Whitlock refused the offer saying that he wants to put his case before a jury.
"We had advised him that it was a good offer," said Brian Butler, Whitlock's attorney. "Obviously, he has to evaluate what's best for him, he's done that, he's put a lot of thought into it, we've had a lot of meetings and he's decided the best thing for him and his family is to try the case and I respect that decision."
In the meantime, Whitlock remains a constable. Butler couldn't say whether or not that's the reason he decided to take his chances with a jury trial and pass on the plea deal.
"I'm not aware of what the Constitutional implications of that are whether or not a felony would preclude him from doing that, but obviously it could have an impact," said Assistant Commonwealth's Attorney Tom Van De Rostyne. "We're just here to try the charges, try to resolve them in a fair and just manner for everybody … the community, the victim and Mr. Whitlock."
By passing on the deal offered to him, Whitlock now faces up to 15 years behind bars if convicted on all charges. The trial is set to begin on October 16.
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