GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — The already long backlog of murder trials in Kent County is about to get worse as a COVID-19 surge once again forces courts to pause trials.
There are 38 murder trials waiting go before a jury, Kent County Prosecutor Chris Becker said.
The mother of one of the victims was preparing for the trial to begin at the end of the month, when she found out the county adjourned all trials until March.
“It hurts because I want closure,” Maritsa Mendez told News 8. “I feel like I can’t go on with life as I would want to without knowing that the person that did this is going to pay for what they did.”
Mendez’s 19-year-old son Alex Disla was shot and killed in October 2020 while behind the wheel in Grandville.
At first, the investigation moved quickly. Police arrested Jerell Chapman for the killing the morning after it happened.
“How effective and how fast (police) were… we felt better knowing that he was apprehended right away,” Mendez said.
Then came the agonizing wait. The pandemic forced Kent County to put all jury trials on hold for much of 2020 and 2021.
When jury trials finally resumed in August 2021, Disla’s case was one of 45 murder trials waiting go before a jury.
Mendez was crushed to learn the trial set for later this month has been delayed. She can’t help but worry about all the time that’s passed.
“The more time that goes by, where are the witnesses? Are they still going to be up to testifying?” she said. “The main witness, who knows where she’s at if they keep pushing this back and pushing this back.”