Ali Matar’s Lawyers Seek Separate Trials For His Three Charges

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BENTON COUNTY (KFSM) – The defense lawyers for former Bentonville School District employee Ali Matar want separate trials for all three of his charges, according to court documents.

Matar, 21, was arrested on May 14 in a rape investigation involving a young girl and later charged with two counts of rape and one count of second-degree sexual assault, according to Carly Marshall, a Benton County deputy prosecuting attorney.

His defense attorneys filed a motion on Sept. 10 for a severance of Matar’s charges, court documents state.

The motion states that since Matar is being tried with three charges under one case, it is assumed by the defense team that prosecutors will try to address all three charges before one jury.

The defense team asks in the motion for each charge to get a separate trial for fear of the jury’s perception of Matar being negatively affected by having all three charges presented in the same trial. Having all three charges in one trial “will deny him a fair determination of guilt or innocence on each of the alleged offenses,” the motion states.

In order to ensure a fair trial, Matar’s lawyers requested that there be three separate trials, one for each charge, according to court documents.

The defense team also requested the separate trials for the three charges due to the fact that there are three alleged victims, three offense dates and three “totally different” fact patterns, court documents state.

In a separate motion filed on the same day, the defense team requested that Matar’s interview with the Bentonville Police Department on May 14 be excluded from being played for the jury. They made this request because they felt that a number of statements made by the interviewing officers were merely opinions, misstated facts and untrue statements, the motion states.

The final motion submitted by Matar’s defense attorneys on Sept. 10 requested that Matar be able to wear “plain clothes” in his future hearings. The motion also requested that all restraints be removed from Matar during any future court appearances.

That motion states Matar has “proven himself to be cooperative with law enforcement in coming to and from the courtroom and has never attempted to flee or assault his custodians.”

Based on that evidence, the defense attorneys requested that Matar’s restraints be removed.

In addressing the clothing situation, the motion states Matar’s jail clothing provided by the state will “improperly prejudice the jury against him and undermine his right to the presumption of innocence.”

His next scheduled court appearance is on Oct. 31 at 8:30 a.m. for a pretrial hearing, according to court documents. His jury trial is scheduled for Jan. 27, 2015, court documents state.

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