Coronavirus causes mistrial

Amanda D. Carmack of Gas City, Indiana.


Amanda Carmack's trial began on October 19, and saw three days of testimony before it suffered a week-long delay after three people associated with the trial tested positive for corona-virus.  The trial was scheduled to resume on November 4.


On November 1 however, word came in that the spouse of an individual that was considered a "critical participant in the trial" had tested positive for the corona-virus.


That positive result meant that the individual would have had to isolate for an additional 14 days past the initial 10-day isolation for the spouse.


Taking a 24-day delay and the fast approaching Thanksgiving holiday into account, Grant Circuit Court Judge Mark Spitzer saw continuing the trial "inappropriate" and determined that "with great reluctance" a mistrial needed to be declared.


Citing an Indiana Supreme Court case for establishing what would be considered an appropriate delay for a trial, Spitzer said "another delay, particularly of such magnitude, is inappropriate.  The Court further funds under the circumstances that there is a manifest necessity to grant a mistrial in the case."


"The court makes such Order over the objection of the Defendant and with full appreciation that all parties, attorneys, jurors, and, indeed, the Court, would have preferred to complete the trial if it were possible to do so timely, safely and within the bounds of fundamental fairness. ... Nonetheless, with great reluctance, the Court declares mistrial in this case."


A new, pretrial hearing has been scheduled for November 30.  A new trial will be scheduled thereafter.


The charges of murder, neglect of a dependent resulting in death, domestic battery resulting in death to a person under 14, and strangulation still remain.  Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty.


Last August, 10-year-old Skylea Ryan Carmack was reported missing by her step-mother.  Several days later, her body was found wrapped in black garbage bags in a shed.  Amanda confessed to strangling Skylea and during a hearing on September 9, waived her right to counsel.



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