Prosecutors expect to begin presenting preliminary evidence to a St. Louis County, Missouri, grand jury Wednesday in the police killing of unarmed teenager Michael Brown, the start of what could be weeks of secret proceedings that could end with Ferguson Police Officer Darren Wilson's being charged with first-degree murder or facing no legal action at all.
Grand juries are secret, and potential defendants usually don't appear. But Ed Magee, a spokesman for St. Louis County Prosecutor Robert McCulloch, told NBC News that Wilson would be given an opportunity to testify. There have been calls for McCulloch to recuse himself because of his close ties to police, but Magee said McCulloch was staying on the case.
Because grand juries aren't trials, they don't follow the same procedures as criminal juries, meaning only nine of the 12 members will have to agree on whether to indict Wilson, and if so, on what charges. "They might have things in front of them that indicate murder in the first degree, but they might decide it's less than that" or even that Wilson shouldn't face charges at all, said Susan McGraugh, supervisor of the Criminal Defense Clinic at St. Louis University Law School. McGraugh told NBC station KSDK of St. Louis that could take weeks — the timetable, she said, "depends on how long it takes for tests to came back and for witnesses to be interviewed."
— M. Alex Johnson
First published August 19 2014, 4:52 PM