Friday, September 21, 2001

Murder trial delayed; judge says terror crisis a distraction

The Associated Press

        LOUISVILLE — A man accused of killing a Jefferson County deputy in 1993 had his murder trial postponed by a judge who worried that jurors would be too distracted by last week's terrorist attacks.

        Peter Bard, 36, was to stand trial Monday in the death of Deputy Sheriff Floyd Cheeks. Mr. Bard is charged with one count of murder. If convicted, he could get the death penalty.

        Jefferson Circuit Judge Lisabeth Hughes Abramson decided Wednesday to delay the trial. Mr. Bard's case, with its claims of insanity and the possibility of the death penalty, requires “particular dedication” from jurors, Judge Abramson said.

        “Given the present circumstances in our country ... is is not the appropriate time to try this case,” the judge said.

        The trial was rescheduled for Jan. 7. A hearing is scheduled for Nov. 1.

        Mr. Bard's attorneys, Don Meier and Ann Bailey Smith, had asked that the trial be postponed.

        According to court records, Mr. Bard, who has been diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia, has claimed he is king of some other land and “Palestinians would dress up as law enforcement officers and come to his home to threaten him.” He has said “these people posed a threat to his life.”

        When he was evaluated by a psychologist, Mr. Bard said Deputy Cheeks, 37, was an “impostor” — a Palestinian wearing a sheriff's uniform.

        On Oct. 27, 1993, he and his partner, Sgt. Milburn Peers, went to a home to serve an emergency protective order on Mr. Bard's brother, Ivan. Ivan Bard was not home. According to court records, after Deputy Cheeks knocked on a door, Peter Bard, carrying a pistol, opened it and fired two shots. The deputy ran but was hit once in the back.

        Until last year, Mr. Bard repeatedly had been found incompetent to stand trial.


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