Church Trial to be Before a Judge, Not a Jury


Published on August 28 2014 7:45 am
Written by Greg Sapp

Effingham resident Albert Church has waived his right to a trial by jury, and will instead have a judge hear his case.

The 23-year-old Church is charged with delivery of a controlled substance under an accountability theory. It's alleged that Church let a local woman know of a source of heroin and that the woman died after ingesting the heroin.

Church's decision to choose a stipulated bench trial comes a day after Judge Allan Lolie denied a motion to move the trial out of Effingham County. Defense attorney Bill Totten had contended that pre-trial publicity would make it difficult to find a fair and unbiased jury.

Also Thursday, State's Attorney Bryan Kibler announced that the prosecution was dismissing a count of criminal drug conspiracy that had been filed against Church several weeks after his arrest. Kibler said the count carried a potentially stiffer sentence since it requires a defendant to serve 75% of a sentence if convicted where the delivery count involves a day-for-day sentence. He said the savings to the County in Church choosing against a jury trial led to the decision to dismiss the count.

The stipulated bench trial for Church will be heard by Judge Lolie on Wednesday, September 17 at 2pm.