A Greenbrier man accused of killing his 3-month-old stepson will now stand trial in November.
Zachary Atwood, 31, is charged with first-degree murder, a Class Y felony, in connection to 3-month-old Mitchell Goss' death. A three-day jury trial was previously set to begin Feb. 28 but was delayed after his previous attorney fell ill and he is now scheduled to appear Nov. 6-8 in Faulkner County Circuit Court for a jury trial regarding the aforementioned case.
Lynn Plemmons, who has taken as Atwood's attorney in this case, stood alongside Atwood before Circuit Judge Charles "Ed" Clawson Jr. on Monday and requested a motion hearing be set prior to his client's jury trial.
Plemmons said he wants to address some pending motions in limine.
Danny Rasmussen, who previously represented Atwood, had asked Clawson to deny prosecutors the ability to admit scrime scene photos as evidence during the three-day trial.
"These photographs of the condition of the home should be excluded because the probative value is substantially outweighed by the danger of unfair prejudice, confusion of the issues or misleading the jury," Rasmussen wrote in his January motion for limine. "The photographs of the deceased, Mitchell Atwood, should also be excluded for the same theory as outline[d] above and that they would only serve the purpose to inflame the jury."
Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Colin Wall said the photographs should be entered in as evidence during Atwood’s trial because they were pertinent to the case built against Atwood.
“The State is entitled to use the photographs contained in the case file, and intends to use only those photographs which are relevant to proving the Defendant’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt,” Wall said in a response to Rasmussen’s request. “The photographs in the case file depict the inside of the Defendant’s shared residence, including the area where the child slept and died, the Defendant’s bedroom, and photographs showing the placement of the child preceding death and how the child was found at the time of his death.”
The defense had also asked Clawson to bar prosecutors from entering statements by two witnesses who told authorities they previously observed Atwood "shot-gunning," or blowing marijuana smoke "in the face of the deceased."
Clawson agreed to set a motion hearing in August to discuss the pending motions.
"We'll resent Mr. Atwood for a hearing on those motions for Aug. 1," Clawson said Monday morning.
Atwood is currently being held in the county jail in lieu of a $100,000 bond. He was arrested after he admitted in a June 2, 2016, interview to putting Mitchell in an infant bed after allegedly sitting on him, according to a probable cause affidavit.
Following Mitchell’s autopsy, the medical examiner said it was “unlikely” the infant’s injuries were sustained from someone sitting on his head.
Autopsy reports showed the infant “suffered bilateral skill fractures and bleeding on the brain into the scalp and around the brain.”
The report also stated the infant would have been “inconsolable until he became unconscious” given the extent of his injuries.