Attorneys agree to seal evidence in case against accused cop-killer

John Russell Hall stands with his attorneys during a pretrial hearing Thursday.

The man accused of murdering a Pikeville Police officer was back in court Thursday.

56-year-old John Russell Hall made his first appearance in Pike Circuit Court since his arraignment on a murder charge in Pikeville Police Officer Scotty Hamilton’s death. Hall is accused shooting and killing the veteran police officer on the night of March 13 at Hurricane Creek, near Pikeville.

In Thursday’s pretrial hearing, Pike Commonwealth’s Attorney Rick Bartley said his office received back a large amount of discovery evidence in the case. Bartley said his office plans to review the evidence — totaling more than 1,000 pages — over the coming weeks before providing the information to the public defender’s office, which is representing Hall.

Pike Commonwealth’s Attorney Rick Bartley addresses the court in Thursday’s hearing.

There were some concerns voiced however.

Bartley said the evidence his office received back could be inflammatory to the public, and could affect the partiality of a potential jury in the case. The prosecutor said in order to protect John Hall’s right to a fair trial, he believes the discovery evidence, and evidence expected to be received back in late July, should be sealed in the court file after it is provided to the public defender.

Both Circuit Judge Eddy Coleman and Department of Public Advocacy Attorney Brian Hewlett, who is Hall’s primary attorney, agreed. All three agreed sealing the evidence in the file would help to avoid a situation where a mistrial could be declared.

John Hall listens during a hearing in the murder case against him.

Also during Thursday’s hearing, it was briefly discussed about Bartley’s desire to seek enhanced penalties in the case. Bartley recently announced his intention to seek the death penalty in the case. Hewlett offered no comment on Thursday’s hearing, but said the hearing was the beginning of a long process in the case.

A status hearing in the case was set for the morning of August 9th. A trial date has not yet been set.

At the time of his death, Officer Scotty Hamilton, a husband and father of an infant girl, was 35 years old.

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