A judge halts the murder trial of Preston Hart, as new evidence surfaces on first day of trial

Preston Hart is accused of shooting and killing Jason Joseph at the corner of Indiana and...
Preston Hart is accused of shooting and killing Jason Joseph at the corner of Indiana and Callaway Streets back on Jan. 13, 2019.(Leon County Jail)
Published: Jun. 10, 2022 at 2:16 PM EDT
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TALLAHASSEE, Fla (WCTV) - A Tallahassee murder trial is now on pause with testimony set to resume in July after new evidence surfaced in the case on the first day of trial.

Preston Hart is accused of the 2019 murder of Jason Joseph, who was shot during an argument near the entrance of the Springfield Arms Apartments.   Hart was tried earlier this year, but the jury could not agree on a verdict and the judge declared a mistrial.

Testimony in Hart’s retrial began Tuesday, but prosecutors say new evidence surfaced that the “state needs to investigate further.”

The judge took the rare step of pausing the trial, sending the jury home, and scheduling the case to resume the week of July 25th.

“In 32 years as a defense attorney - and I’ve done hundreds of cases, maybe thousands - this has never occurred before and may never happen again,” Hart’s attorney John Eagan said.

Neither Eagan nor prosecutor Lorena Bueno would specify what the evidence is, but the State Attorney filed a statement with the court Wednesday saying based on the new information, prosecutors believe “justice demands he be allowed release from the Leon County Detention Center.”

A judge has now set a $250,000 bond for Hart as he awaits the continuation of his trial.  Hart would have to stay home, wear a GPS monitor, have no contact with any witnesses in the case and possess no weapons.   At last check, Hart was still in the Leon County Jail.

“Everybody involved wants to ensure a fair trial, to honor the victim and to protect the rights of the defendant,” prosecutor Lorena Bueno said.

Court records now show Hart now set for trial July 25th through the 29th.

For previous coverage go here.

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