Defense: Facebook ads could be grounds for mistrial in road rage shooting case
Las Vegas, NV (KTNV) -- There's been a twist in the road rage shooting story that grabbed national headlines last February, and defense attorneys for the accused killer say it could potentially lead to a mistrial.
Tammy Meyers, 44, was shot and killed after what police initially described as a road rage altercation, although prosecutors have since acknowledged her death may have been tied to a drug deal. Now the law firm representing the Meyers family appears to have taken out paid advertisements on social media promoting their side of the story, which the defense for the accused trigger man says could damage the jury pool.
Action News discovered the Facebook posts sponsored by Schwartz Flansburg, PLLC over the last week. We approached Sam Schwartz, the attorney representing the Meyers family, and asked for comment, but he declined to interview saying the Meyers family preferred to forego television at this point in the trial.
Action News also asked the defense for their take on the ads. After seeing the posts attorney Augustus Claus said he would have to immediately notify the Bar Association and speak to both the judge and the state to figure out how many people saw the posts, and determine if it could taint the jury pool, which could be grounds for a mistrial.
"Certainly I have never even heard of something like this being done," Claus said.
Schwartz Flansburg PLLC is listed as the sponsor of the Facebook ads which link to Review Journal articles telling of the Meyers family's plight following the shooting death of the mother, Tammy. But it's as much the articles as the messages that precede them that the defense says could be a violation of pretrial publicity laws.
"Would purchasing public opinion from the pool of people that you are to select a jury from be a problem? I think the very question answers itself. I am flabbergasted, I am very surprised." Claus said.
One post which appears to be written by the law firm says in part, "We are all asking ourselves when Erich Nowsch will be convicted for fatally shooting Tammy Meyers. He has already confessed to the crime."
Another post from June 18 states in part, "In February of this year, Tammy Meyers was shot and killed by Erich Nowsch". Both of those statements are ultimately up to a jury to decide.
Whether it's grounds for disbarment is something the Bar Association will decide; technically the firm isn't involved in the criminal case, but the family they represent has a vested interest in it's outcome, and the jury hasn't been selected yet.
Augustus Claus says he will be filing a motion to determine the scope of the impact to the case. "I think you've raised some very good questions to which frankly even I don't have the answers," he said.
At this point Action News has not reached out to prosecutors to find out if they were aware of the ads; the office was closed at the time of our story. We will bring you updates as we receive answers on this developing story.