Prosecutors tried but failed Monday to schedule a trial for a man accused of killing his girlfriend and her 4-year-old son in Dale more than three years ago.
Solicitor Duffie Stone said his office, which is seeking the death penalty for Ernest Stewart Daise, has been ready to try the case for more than a year.
However, defense attorneys for Daise requested more time Monday in the Beaufort County Courthouse. Casey Secor of the Capital Trial Division of the S.C. Commission on Indigent Defense -- part of Daise's defense team -- said an expert witness for the defense would not be available to testify until late summer or early fall. The witness was not identified Monday.
Circuit Court Judge Carmen Mullen, who proposed a June trial date, is allowing the defense a couple of days to discuss the expert witness's availability.
Daise is accused of murdering his girlfriend, Jeanine Mullen, and her son, and wounding the couple's 2-year-old son on Nov. 15, 2009. Mullen was a 34-year-old single mother who worked at Shanklin Elementary School. She was found dead with her son Waltfredo Davis-Mullen at their home on Player Road in Dale.
Roberta Mullen, Jeanine's mother, attended the pretrial motions Monday hoping that a trial date would be set.
Daise and Mullen's son, who is now 5, recovered from his wounds but is still traumatized, Roberta Mullen said.
According to investigators questioned Monday, the child told paramedics, "My daddy did it," as he was being transported for treatment.
Members of the Beaufort County Sheriff's Office who worked on the case and others were called to the stand while attorneys discussed what evidence would be allowed at trial.
Secor questioned investigators about warrants that allowed them to search Daise's Beaufort home and seize his clothes.
Judge Mullen, who is not related to the victims, issued no rulings Monday. Another full day of pretrial motions is expected over the next month.