Grand jury proceedings explained by DA's office

Grand jury proceedings explained by DA's office

MIDLAND COUNTY, TX (KWES) - It's two days after a grand jury met for the second time in connection to missing Sul Ross State University student, Zuzu Verk.

Nothing new has been filed in the case and it's expected the grand jury will meet again, but many people aren't sure what's happening inside of that courtroom.

The Midland County's District Attorney's office tells us what happens inside most of those proceedings.

Grand Jury proceedings are kept secret and are often used as part of the case's investigation.

"That way the grand jurors can feel comfortable and they can openly discuss the case," said District Attorney Elect, Laura Nodolf. "As well as not have their identity really be open to the public and have them potentially scrutinized for maybe no billing a case that the community felt should have been true billed."

Nodolf said during the secret proceedings grand jurors can openly ask questions about the case and request for suspects or persons of interest to testify.

"We can ask for a defendant or a suspect to come and testify," said Nodolf. "However, they're not required to come because they have their constitutional right to remain silent."

The goal for these proceedings is for the grand jurors to determine if there is probable cause in order to keep the case moving forward.

"The standard of a probable cause is much lower than that of a reasonable doubt. Probable cause is the same standard that you have to arrest somebody," said Nodolf. "So it's a fairly low standard and that's why you see indictments come out more often than people getting no billed because that threshold, that burn of proof is so low."

Nodolf also said it is common for grand juries to reconvene and have terms anywhere from six weeks to six months.

The term for the grand jury in the Verk case has been extended three months. Brewster county said it's unusual for grand juries in that area to reconvene, it's possible the grand jury for the Verk case will meet for the third time in January.

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