The jury trial for Demetrius Roberson, who is accused of shooting and killing Lexus Bell in 2016, was set to begin on Monday with jury selection, but it was postponed by Circuit Court Judge Tyler Gill after he removed the attorneys for Roberson from the case and appointed new counsel.

The attorneys who were removed are with the Capital Branch of the Department of Public Advocacy and were assigned after the case was certified for the death penalty in 2018.

Last week the defense team claimed to have just recently become aware that a CD was blank which had been supplied to them as discovery from the Commonwealth Attorney's office last year. The disc was supposed to have contained police interviews of potential witnesses against Roberson but was blank. So, Gill was asked to push back the start of the trial so that they could get a new copy of the disc and examine it.

Kerr did not oppose the motion for a continuance, because he said he did not want to have a conviction overturned on appeal because of it.

Gill was not about to push back the start of the trial and told the defense team that they should have known months ago that there was a problem with the disc.

He said that they had four days left to prepare for the trial and that he would not postpone it due to their "incompetence."

On Monday, however, defense counsel announced that they still were not prepared for trial and could not offer effective assistance of counsel. When asked by the judge what he believed would happen should this matter proceed to trial as scheduled and result in a conviction.

"When we left court last Wednesday, it was my belief 100 percent that I would be trying this case twice based upon what was put on the record that day," Kerr said. "Now based upon what has been put on the record today, I believe there is a 150 percent chance that this matter will be reversed on appeal if we proceed to trial today and get a conviction.”

At the conclusion of the hearing in chambers, Judge Gill canceled the jury trial, removed the attorneys from the Capital Branch of the DPA, and appointed a local attorney from the Trial Branch of the DPA.

“I am absolutely prepared to take this case to trial today," Kerr said Monday. "My office has worked tirelessly along with Det. Kenneth Edmonds of the RPD and other law enforcement officers, to be ready for this day, to seek justice for Lexus Bell. However, it is not fair to her family or this community to spend the next two to three weeks in trial to get a murder conviction that will no doubt be reversed and sent back to us to do over again in two years. That is the only reason that I did not object to a continuance today.”

During the hearing last week in denying the motion of defense counsel for a continuance, Judge Gill cited his responsibility to maintain the public trust in the judicial system by seeing that this case went to trial within a reasonable period of time. He again cited those concerns in open court Monday.

“Nothing would undermine the public’s trust in our local judicial system more than having to take this case to trial twice," Kerr said. "I can hardly imagine folks around here having much confidence in anyone who is involved in this process if the Commonwealth were to get a conviction for murder and the Court of Appeals were to set aside that conviction, even though there was no error by either my office or law enforcement. That is why I absolutely agree with what Judge Gill did today.”