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Criminal trials expected to pick up in February in GC

By Jerrie Whiteley
Herald Democrat
Grayson County expects public criminal trials to pick back up in the coming months after being curtailed during the pandemic. Grayson County District Attorney Brett Smith said his office and others involved in justice system have been clearing cases during the pandemic with the use of technology like Zoom hearings.

Though the COVID-19 pandemic has left virtually no segment of society unchecked, those involved in the criminal just system have been one of those departments that had to scramble to find a new way of doing things.

Grayson County District Attorney Brett Smith said last week that they expect to resume jury trials in February. 

Smith said that the county has continued to move cases with procedures like zoom hearings and sentencings. However, he said, he expects actually trials to resume in in the next month.

He said while the work that has been being done may not be as visible as some things in the past, that didn't mean things were grinding to  halt over there.

Smith said there were two major trials in at the end of last year including Antonio Prado Jr. who was sentenced to life in prison for the shooting death of a five-year-old Denison boy in a drug deal gone bad. Prado's co defendants in that case have yet to come to trial but Sabrina Nino's court records show she is set for a plea hearing this week. The third co defendant in that case, Ryan Clay's court records still show no hearings set in the immediate future.

Smith said the county has been lucky to have the two larger courtrooms in the Grayson County Courthouse to use to allow for social distancing during trials. The maximum number of people allowed in the courtrooms at the Justice Center under pandemic restrictions is ten. 

The courtrooms at the courthouse allow them to easily double and triple those numbers while allowing for social distancing for jurors and others involved in the process.

Many January cases were postponed due to the pandemic.