Bessner jury sent home; judge to review 'legal issue'

Mark Bessner during the former Michigan State Police trooper's final pre-trial hearing last month in 36th District Court. His second trial started last week.

The jury in the second murder trial for a former Michigan State Police trooper was sent home  Monday after the judge, defense attorneys and the prosecutor met for more than an hour in the judge's chambers over a "legal issue."

Wayne County Circuit Court Judge Margaret Van Houten said the "legal issue" in the trial of Mark Bessner will be addressed at 9 a.m. Tuesday but not in front of the jury. Jurors are scheduled to return to the courtroom at 11 a.m.

Van Houten would not comment on what the legal issue is but did say there are briefs she has to review regarding it.

Bessner, 45, is being retried on charges of second-degree murder and involuntary manslaughter in the death of 15-year-old Damon Grimes, an ATV rider who hit a parked truck after being Tased by Bessner around 5:30 p.m. Aug. 26, 2017.

Grimes was being chased by Bessner and his partner on Rossini Street near Gratiot on Detroit's east side.

During his opening statement last week, assistant Wayne County Prosecutor Matthew Penney told jurors that Bessner had wanted to use his Taser on another ATV rider two weeks before the Grimes incident.

According to Penney, Bessner and his partner gave chase to a group of ATV riders on Fort Street near downtown Aug. 12, 2017.

On an audio recording made during the incident, Bessner is heard laughing as the troopers chased the group of ATV riders, Penney said. The trooper also is allegedly heard saying, "I was kinda hoping we'd get close enough that we could Tase that guy once we stopped." The ATV riders eluded Bessner and his partner once the troopers put their lights and sirens on.

The defense had been scheduled to begin presenting its case Monday. Bessner's first trial ended in a hung jury last October.

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