OGDEN -- In somewhat unprecedented proceedings, two murder trials open on the same day today in Ogden's 2nd District Courthouse.
Events begin with jury selection, expected to take up the morning, in the trials of Brad Ricks and Robert McCullar.
"I can't recall another time in the last decade it's happened," said Weber County Attorney Dee Smith. Appointed county attorney in May 2009, Smith also spent four years as a prosecutor in the office beginning in 1999 between stints as a defense attorney.
He is personally handling the trial of McCullar, scheduled to span the month of July before Judge W. Brent West.
Ricks' trial, his second, is plotted to run through Wednesday. The first ended in a mistrial, declared after Judge Michael Lyon found that errors in jury instructions had marred the guilty verdict returned against Ricks in September 2010.
McCullar's trial is scheduled to take up 11 days running through July 29, with Wednesdays off for Judge West's regular full criminal calendar day, and July 25, when the courts close for Pioneer Day.
McCullar's case is a whodunit for the defense, his public defender Jim Retallick announcing in April his client is innocent, a rare public pronouncement for defense attorneys to make.
McCullar, 50, is charged with the Dec. 22, 2009, stabbing death of Filiberto Robles Bedolla, 49, at 2560 Adams Ave. McCullar has been in Weber County Jail since he was charged in February 2010.
Charging documents state McCullar slashed Bedolla's throat during an argument in which Bedolla used a racial slur and spit in his face. Bedolla was stabbed 14 times.
In February. Retallick filed subpoenas for all jail records for five current and former jail inmates, including tapes of their phone calls. He has called some of them "potential alternate suspects."
Ricks, 54, is charged in the April 21, 2009, death of his friend, Maurice Lee, 56. The two were inebriated and toying with guns in Ricks' Ogden home.
Ricks and Lee, his neighbor, had been drinking together all day, with Lee boasting he was fearless and daring Ricks to put a gun to his head.
A given in the case is that Ricks put the muzzle of his .45-caliber Glock handgun to Lee's forehead and pulled the trigger in response to Lee's urging. Ricks admitted to the incident, saying he thought he'd unloaded the gun before putting it to Lee's head.
Ricks then called 911. Before the shooting, Ricks had no felony criminal record.