A cable television station known for following courtroom dramas has wired a Columbia County courtroom as the murder trial of a 15-year-old Harlem teen begins today.
Lacy Aaron Schmidt is charged in the Jan. 31, 2011 death of his 14-year-old neighbor, Alana Calahan, at her Miles Road home.
“Generally, cases like this take two to three days,” District Attorney Ashley Wright wrote in an e-mail.
Superior Court Judge Michael Annis, anticipating intense media interest in the case, ordered pooled coverage. In Session, which provides video for cable channel TrueTV - formerly known as Court TV - wired the courtroom with cameras last week and is the pool provider of video coverage.
News-Times photographer Jim Blaylock is providing still photo coverage. All members of the media have been seated on the front row for the duration of trial.
Last March, a grand jury indicted Schmidt, of the 1400 block of Miles Road, of murder, theft by taking and possession of a firearm during the commission of a crime.
Alana’s family declined to comment on the case until after the trial.
Authorities allege that Schmidt, 14 at the time, shot the Harlem Middle School eighth-grader as she sat at a computer inside her family dining room. Alana was dragged outside, where Schmidt initially claimed he saw an intruder on the property.
After changing his story several times, Schmidt eventually said he was fumbling with the 9-mm handgun belonging to Alana’s father when it went off, striking Alana as she sat at the computer in the dining room.
Schmidt was arrested later that night.
Authorities found the gun in nearby woods. They also found the gun case and a box of ammunition under a bathroom sink off Schmidt’s bedroom at his home.
The gun’s owner’s manual was found in his dresser drawer, and several items from the Calahan home, including a digital camera and MP3 player, were found in his bedroom.
Schmidt pled not guilty to the charges in May.
His trial is scheduled to begin less than a week after the anniversary of Alana’s death.
“Each case has to navigate the waters of the court process in its own time,” Wright said. “The issues and the evidence dictate the amount of pre-trial time needed.”
Assistant District Attorney Natalie Paine will be prosecuting the case.
Schmidt has been held in the Regional Youth Detention Center without bond while awaiting trial.