Judge tried to hold rare trial but defendant didn’t show up

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (AP) — A federal judge in Grand Rapids tried to hold a trial, a rare step during the coronavirus pandemic, but the plan was scratched when the defendant didn’t show up Tuesday.

U.S. District Judge Janet Neff had planned to have jurors spread out in the area normally used by spectators. Witnesses would testify from the jury box.

But jury selection didn’t start: Anthony Ozomaro refused to leave a jail to go to court, Neff said in an order that sets a new schedule for the case.

Ozomaro is charged with a methamphetamine crime. He is acting as his own lawyer. Separately, he faces a murder charge in Kalamazoo County.

In state courts, trials have been postponed for weeks because of stay-home orders and efforts to reduce the risk of spreading the coronavirus.