DESOTO PARISH, LA (KSLA) - Exactly two months to the day before the capital murder trial of convicted sex offender Brian Horn was set to begin, the judge in the case has agreed to give the defense more time to prepare.
Horn, 36, is accused in the abduction and murder of 12-year-old Justin Bloxom in March of 2010. DeSoto Parish deputies say the twice-convicted sex offender and cab driver posed as a 15-year-old girl via text message to lure Bloxom out of a friend's house. The boy's body was found in a wooded area along U.S. Highway 171 the next day.
The trial was set to get under way on June 24, but at a hearing in mid-April, the defense asked for more time to prepare for trial.
That request was based on testimony from a "mitigation specialist" working for the Louisiana Capital Assistance Project of Louisiana, which is representing Horn in the case. Mitigation specialists are key players in the defense in any capital case, researching and compiling comprehensive information on defendant's lives, motivations and histories that may become relevant in the penalty phase of a trial, should they be convicted.
In a hearing on April 15, the mitigation specialist in the Horn case told the judge that she would not be ready in time for a June 24 trial.
Late Wednesday morning, DeSoto District Court Judge Ron Burgess issued a ruling granting the defense motion for continuance, saying "The matter is continued without a date, pending further orders from this court."
DeSoto Parish District Attorney Richard Johnson says the ruling is not a setback, but a delay, and it's one he says "the State does not agree with at all."
"Our position is that the defense has had plenty of time to prepare for the trial, for a long time. There is no reason the mitigation specialist hasn't been able to get up to snuff."
By early Wednesday afternoon, Johnson said his office was in the process of filing notice of the State's intent to appeal Judge Burgess' ruling with the Second Circuit Court of Appeals.
So far, no new court hearings have been set.