From Local 3 News: The man accused of brutally murdering 22-year-old Jasmine Pace in November will be back in court Thursday morning for his preliminary hearing.
We are expecting to hear more graphic details about how he is accused of killing her.
A preliminary hearing is like a mini trial. Prosecutors will call witnesses to prove they have enough evidence against their defendant to try the case in front of a jury.
Chen’s defense attorney could hear details about the investigation for the very first time.
“You know what you’re facing at that point,” said Jerry Tidwell, a criminal defense attorney with no affiliation with the case. “In order to get the case bound over, you have to submit evidence to the judge, even if they’ve heard it before.”
Jasmine Pace went missing in November. Her family told Local 3 News she had texted her location to her mom around the time investigators believe she had died. That’s how police decided that her last known location was Jason Chen’s apartment in Chattanooga’s Northshore.
Chen’s arrest warrants say police found Pace’s belongings, cleaning supplies, and a large amount of Pace’s blood inside of Chen’s apartment.
Police found Pace’s body in a suitcase in Suck Creek nine days after she last spoke to any of her friends and family. Investigators said she had been stabbed about 60 times and her ankles were bound to her wrist.
“Her bound position is such that virtually all of the wounds can be inflicted with her in that position,” Steven Cogswell, the deputy chief medical examiner for Hamilton County, said while testifying at Chen’s bond hearing in December.
Many of the details of the investigation typically released during a preliminary hearing were already discussed at Chen’s bond hearing, when he was issued a $5 million bond. The only piece of evidence we have not heard but know exists is Pace’s autopsy report, which has not been made public yet.
If Chen does not enter a guilty plea, the judge can either bound the case to the grand jury for an indictment ahead of a trial or dismiss the charges.
“I believe there are some real issues for Mr. Chen,” said Judge Larry Ables before announcing Chen’s bond in December.
But all prosecutors will have to do is prove they have enough evidence to try the case, a much lower standard than what prosecutors will eventually have to prove if Chen ultimately goes to trial.
Chen is due in court on Thursday at 9 a.m.