CHRIS MOORE — Jake’s Fireworks trial delay spotlights complex legal system

Published 12:32 am Wednesday, September 29, 2021

Those waiting for a resolution to the case surrounding a raid of the Jake’s Fireworks shop will have to wait a few more months at least.

The defense for Jake Daughtry, the case’s lead defendant, filed an unopposed motion for continuance.

The most recent trial date was set for the end of September, but the volume of evidence is going to take some time to sift through, according to the motion.

“The volume and nature of the evidence is overwhelming,” the motion reads. “The AUSA has represented to this court that there are over 900,000 documents in this discovery. Leading up to the trial, the government has produced nearly 5 terabytes of data to the defense. To put this in perspective, 5 terabytes equals one-third of the entire library of congress.”

The defense went on to express that it would likely take the council “an entire year” to go through the entire discovery.

“Undersigned council’s office has spent approximately 90 hours going through discovery since its production three weeks ago and has reviewed less than five percent of the data,” the motion from the defense read.

Judge Thad Heartfield ordered the continuance to allow “reasonable time” to prepare for trial. He wrote “that the ends of justice served by granting the continuance outweigh the best interests of the public and the defendant to a speedy trial.”

In July of 2020, federal agents raided the fireworks stand, and the government alleged that the business, which also serves as a storefront for a chemical distributor owned by the Daughtrys, knowingly sold a chemical for human consumption.

The defense says the business sold the chemical, which is legally sold as an industrial cleaner, but denied all allegations of drug trafficking and money laundering.

Many are used to the television version of the legal process. It is usually much simpler on the screen. An alleged crime happens. Either someone witnesses it or there is undeniable evidence.

There is a trial where said evidence is produced and the jury determines the guilt, and it is all wrapped up in about 30 minutes.

This case is much more complex with much more to take in. In my experience, a simple murder trial usually takes approximately a year to go to trial. This is a federal case, and both sides want to make sure no stone goes unturned and all of the evidence is appropriately scrutinized.

The new trial date is set for early next year, but given the defense’s belief that council will need a year to comb through the evidence, this could go into next summer. Then again, the judge had previously admonished both sides for not speeding up the process.

Chris Moore is the sports editor for Port Arthur Newsmedia. He can be reached at chris.moore@panews.com.