Security tight for murder trial
By MARY ANN GREIER
LISBON - With people filling the Columbiana County Common Pleas courtroom during the Eric Dillard murder trial and family members of both sides crossing paths outside, security has noticeably increased.
"We have to increase our presence," courthouse security chief Eric Moore said, noting security officers have had to increase their work hours since the trial began last Tuesday.
"We have to monitor not only vigilant in the courtroom, but what's going on around (the hallways) and outside," he said.
Apparently a member of victim Jamie Farley's family approached Dillard in the parking lot after court one day last week, prompting Dillard to report the incident to security. Dillard is on trial for murder and having weapons under disability for the April 22, 2008, shooting death of Farley outside Dillard's Wellsville residence.
Since posting bond, he's remained out of jail while awaiting trial under a condition of electronically-monitored house arrest, meaning he can't leave his house unless he's making a court appearance or meeting with his attorneys in their East Palestine office.
The mother of the victim, who has been attending the trial every day with other family members, questioned how he can be permitted to walk around outside during breaks and not be made to steer clear of them.
Moore said he raised the issue with the attorneys about Dillard being permitted to walk freely around the square in Lisbon during breaks and was told he's not restricted.
Jurors wear buttons indicating their status as jurors when they're out for breaks and lunch so that people involved with the trial don't approach them. Several times, family members from both sides have had to walk past each other in local restaurants or on the street, causing emotion for both sides.
One security officer remains in the courtroom at all times during the trial, with another one monitoring security cameras and handling other matters in the other courtrooms. The front door includes another pair of security officers, handling entry into the courthouse and watching the area outside. They've been collecting cell phones which have been restricted from the second floor.
Common Pleas judges instituted a policy last year restricting the use of cell phones on the second floor after someone in a courtroom used one to take a photograph during a criminal court proceeding. During opening arguments last week, a cell phone went off in the courtroom of the Dillard trial, prompting security to go a step further and prohibit cell phones from being on the second floor - period.