Tahlequah Daily Press

January 11, 2013

Attorney says client won’t get fair trial, blames press

Staff Writer

TAHLEQUAH — A Cherokee County man accused of abusing a girl and woman and decapitating a puppy with an ax claimed Thursday that a newspaper article published last week included inaccurate information that would cause his client to be “prejudged” in front of prospective jurors.

Brandon Keith Hubbard, 29, of Rose, is accused of child abuse by injury, cruelty to animals, and domestic assault and battery in the presence of children. Authorities allege Hubbard used a whip and broom handle to assault a girl; assaulted an adult woman; and at some point used an ax to chop the head off a puppy in the girl’s presence.

Hubbard was tentatively set for trial later this month, and was set for a jury sounding docket Jan. 3 in front of District Judge Darrell Shepherd. When Shepherd called Hubbard’s name Jan. 3, he did not appear, so Shepherd said he was issuing a failure-to-appear warrant for Hubbard.

On Thursday, Hubbard and his attorney, Doak Willis, appeared in court in front of Shepherd. Willis asked the judge to strike the case from a January jury trial, claiming a warrant had not been issued for Hubbard as was alleged in the Daily Press article published Jan. 4.

Willis’ court filing claims the article included “sensational wording,” and that Hubbard would be unable to face a fair and impartial jury based on that wording and the headline.

But Shepherd explained to Willis he did say in court last week that he would be issuing a warrant for Hubbard. Shepherd said he later learned Hubbard was at the courthouse. Willis insisted he and Hubbard were in another office and were told they would be summoned by a court clerk if needed, but a summons never came.

Shepherd later decided not to issue the warrant.

Shepherd struck Hubbard’s case from the upcoming jury trial, but pointed out his decision had no bearing on the press the case has received.

Instead, the judge said, he struck the matter because court records did not indicate Hubbard had received a district court arraignment.

Shepherd held that arraignment Thursday and then set the case for a felony sounding docket Feb. 7 at 1:30 p.m.