ST. LOUIS - It has now been five weeks since a judge began deliberating the fate of a former police officer charged with first-degree murder.
Jason Stockley, 36, is accused of fatally shooting Anthony Lamar Smith, 24, in 2011 after a suspected drug deal and high-speed chase in north city.
Stockley has pleaded not guilty to the charges, claiming he killed Smith because Smith was armed and his life was in imminent danger.
On Wednesday evening, protesters again gathered and interrupted traffic in Kirkwood as they urged support for a conviction in the controversial case.
But 5 On Your Side spoke with a legal expert in St. Louis who said such demonstrations will probably carry very little weight in the long run.
"The judge can only look at the evidence presented. The judge cannot get into the head of the community to see what the community wants," said John Ammann, a professor with SLU's law school.
Stockley's five-day trial ended on August 9.
And with barricades outside the Carnahan Courthouse downtown in preparations for a ruling, many people are left to wonder-- what is taking so long?
Ammann said bench trials in murder cases are unusual, but not unheard of. He said nothing can be read into how long it takes the judge to reach a decision.
He said jury trials typically don't last as long.
"In a bench trial, the judge can take as long as he or she would like. The decision could come at any time," he said.
In the Stockley case, there has been no public indication of when Judge Timothy Wilson will render his ruling.
Ammann said it's important to remember that one person bears the entire weight of deciding a man's future.
"The judge has years of experience and knows these kinds of cases. He's going deep into the law as well as deep into the facts. He knows he can't be influenced by letters or press coverage. He has a very difficult job," Ammann said.
And when it comes to announcing a decision, Ammann emphasized Wilson doesn't have to do it publicly.
"The judge has the option to read his decision from the bench, or post it on the Missouri court system's website," he explained. "It could be very short or it could be a very lengthy opinion."
Stockley is charged with first-degree murder and armed criminal action, but in this case — if Wilson finds the facts and evidence better support a lesser charge — Stockley could be found guilty of second-degree murder, manslaughter or other lesser charges.
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