It is the second time the trial has been delayed awaiting a decision from the state Court of Appeals on whether Caldwell would face double jeopardy if he is brought to trial again.
His attorneys argue that Caldwell's appearance for trial in August, at which Peckler declared a mistrial before any witnesses testified, should be considered a trial and that their client cannot be tried twice on the same charge.
The attorneys filed a Writ of Prohibition asking the appellate court to dismiss the charges in November, about two weeks before Caldwell's scheduled second trial date, and asked that the case be continued until a ruling was issued. Peckler rescheduled the trial for this month, with parties agreeing that should provide enough time for the appellate court to rule on the writ. The Court of Appeals, however, has not yet ruled on the case.
"We're kind of surprised by the delay in the ruling," defense attorney Ephraim Helton said Thursday. "At this point, none of us know what to expect."
Both sides say they would appeal
According to Peckler's order, both parties have indicated they would appeal an unfavorable appellate ruling to the state Supreme Court, causing further delay. Peckler said that the earliest he sees the trial occurring is May, but said it could be longer.
Helton said that if Caldwell loses at both the appellate and Supreme Court levels, he plans to file a writ of habeas corpus in federal court that could push the trial back even further. The matter falls under federal jurisdiction because the U.S. Constitution protects citizens against facing double jeopardy, he said.
"Mr. Caldwell is not happy with these continuances. It's not like he's asking us to delay his trial," Helton said. "We are not trying to delay. We are trying to protect his rights. Mr. Caldwell wants his day in court."
Caldwell, 80, is being treated for cancer, serious respiratory problems and other ailments. Helton, on Thursday, described his client's health as "precarious at best," but said that his condition has been relatively stable. Caldwell used a wheelchair and breathing tubes during his early court appearances, but more recently has come to court under his own power and appeared to be in relatively good health.
Caldwell and Trachsel, 56, were longtime neighbors who had a history of property disputes. Prosecutors contend that the shooting was triggered when those bad feelings boiled over. Caldwell has said, however, that he shot Trachsel in self defense as his neighbor surprised him from behind on a riding lawn mower.