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As courtroom players continue to adapt the judicial process to the realities of a COVID-19 world, the attorney for a Boise man accused of fatally injuring his infant son is pushing for an in-person preliminary hearing, saying a virtual hearing would violate his rights, writes Idaho Press reporter Tommy Simmons. Thomas Rowley, 22, is charged with first-degree murder in connection with the June 21 death of his 4-month-old son, Milo Thomas Rowley. Prosecutors say Thomas Rowley shook the infant for between 15 and 20 seconds out of “frustration,” and didn’t immediately take the child to the hospital, KTVB reports. The baby eventually died at St. Luke’s Regional Medical Center in Boise.

Per the April 22 emergency order from the Idaho Supreme Court, court hearings — save for a few types listed in the order — are to be held virtually, in an effort to stop the spread of the coronavirus. Courts across the state have adapted to the new requirements; in Ada County, for example, officials retooled Expo Idaho’s enormous space into a warehouse for individual, socially-distant stations with computers people can use to appear in court remotely.

In the July 17 memorandum, Gray argues the judge in the case should make an exception to the Idaho Supreme Court’s order and hold Thomas Rowley’s preliminary hearing in person. To hold it remotely, she wrote, would be to violate his right to confront the witnesses testifying against him.

You can read Simmons' full story here at (subscription required), or pick up Friday's edition of the Idaho Press.

Betsy Z. Russell is the Boise bureau chief and state capitol reporter for the Idaho Press and Adams Publishing Group. Follow her on Twitter at @BetsyZRussell.

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