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Bayshore crash trial reset for January amid pandemic delays

Jury trials have been on hold statewide since March due to the coronavirus.

TAMPA — The trial of two young men accused of causing a crash on Bayshore Boulevard, which killed a mother and her young daughter, will be in January, a judge and attorneys decided Monday.

Amid unexpected delays due to the coronavirus pandemic, the much-anticipated case of Cameron Herrin and John Barrineau is set to begin Jan. 4.

An earlier date had to be postponed as jury trials statewide were put on hold in March. It remains uncertain when they will resume.

In a video court hearing Monday, Hillsborough Circuit Judge Christopher Nash guessed that trials could start again in the fall.

Even so, much remains to be considered. The Bayshore case has generated heavy public interest. The court will need a large pool of prospective jurors to guard against those who may have been exposed to pretrial publicity, the judge said. With the coronavirus still looming, the particulars of assembling such a large group are uncertain.

Related: Florida courts grapple with how to keep cases moving

“We’re going to have to think through logistics how we’re going to conduct a jury selection with social distancing,” the judge said. “It could just be that it’s going to take longer than it normally does.”

Lillia Raubenolt and her mother, Jessica Raubenolt are seen along with Jessica's husband David Raubenolt in this undated family photo from Facebook.
Lillia Raubenolt and her mother, Jessica Raubenolt are seen along with Jessica's husband David Raubenolt in this undated family photo from Facebook.

Herrin, 20, and Barrineau, 19, remain free on bail with restrictions. They are each charged with vehicular homicide in the May 23, 2018, deaths of Jessica Reisinger-Raubenolt and her 21-month-old daughter, Lillia. The mother, who was from Ohio and visiting family in Tampa, was pushing her daughter in a stroller across Bayshore Boulevard that afternoon when they were struck by a Ford Mustang.

Police said Herrin was the driver, and that he was racing Barrineau, who drove a Nissan Altima. The pair reached speeds in excess of 100 mph before the crash, police said.

Defense attorneys said they have been preparing diligently, amid complications due to the pandemic. Final pretrial depositions are set for mid-September. But they expressed concern about setting a trial too early, with the chance that the court system might not reopen as soon as is hoped.

They suggested setting the trial sometime early next year.

“I hate to see this start and stop,” said defense attorney John Fitzgibbons. “Hopefully this country gets back to some normalcy. It’s going to be a long time before the judicial system gets there.”

He noted the expected difficulty of getting people to come in for jury duty. Many will probably be fearful of sitting among strangers. Some may be returning to work for the first time since the spring and looking to make up for financial losses.

Bob Reisinger, the father of Jessica Reisinger-Raubenolt and grandfather of Lillia Raubenolt, speaks during a routine court hearing in December for the two teens accused of causing the traffic crash that took their lives.
Bob Reisinger, the father of Jessica Reisinger-Raubenolt and grandfather of Lillia Raubenolt, speaks during a routine court hearing in December for the two teens accused of causing the traffic crash that took their lives. [ WTVT-Fox 13 ]

Last December, family members of the mother and daughter implored Judge Nash to set a trial date.

Bob Reisinger, Jessica’s father, spoke again during Monday’s hearing.

“I believe justice is being denied because justice is being delayed,” he said. “It’s time for this masquerade to end.”

The trial is set to last two weeks.

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