President of Virginia NAACP group says death of Irvo Otieno is 'very shocking'

Posted at 11:19 PM, Mar 20, 2023

DINWIDDIE COUNTY, Va. -- As a Dinwiddie County grand jury prepares to hear the case against ten people charged with second-degree murder in the death of Irvo Otieno, CBS 6 is learning that the video of Otieno's final moments may not be released to the public as the Dinwiddie County Commonwealth's Attorney had planned.

The grand jury will meet on Tuesday inside the Dinwiddie County Court House to determine if there's enough evidence to proceed to trial in the death of Otieno who prosecutors say was smothered to death on March 6 at Central State Hospital where he was being treated for mental health issues.

"It was very shocking that another young Black man has to die because of a mental health episode," Robert Barnette, the president of the Virginia State Conference of the NAACP, said.

Barnette said the organization will continue to closely follow the case.

Seven Henrico County Sheriff's Deputies and three hospital security guards have been charged with his death.

Otieno, who came to the United States from Kenya as a child, was a 2012 graduate of Douglass Freeman High School.

While Otieno's family has seen videos in connection with his death, the videos have not been publicly released.

"We commend the Commonwealth's Attorney for bringing these charges immediately and if there's anyone else involved, we support bringing charges as well to what has happened, how it can be prevented so no family has to go through this again," Barnette said.

As a custom, on Tuesday neither the defendants nor their attorneys will be present before the grand jury.

CBS 6 legal analyst Todd Stone said the burden will fall on the prosecution to show probable cause in the case.

"It's usually an investigator in the case. They are probably going to be showing the video to the grand jurors and describing who the people are and asking for specific charges," Stone said.

It's unclear whether the Commonwealth's Attorney will ask the grand jury for additional or different charges for each defendant.

On March 6, Otieno was taken to Central State Hospital, the state's mental health facility in Dinwiddie County, where he died during the intake process.

Stone said the burden is low for the prosecution on Tuesday but convicting 10 people of second-degree murder in a trial will be a steeper challenge for Dinwiddie's Commonwealth's Attorney.

"Because the burden is low at a grand jury, it's just probable cause, where the trial is proof beyond reasonable doubt," Stone said.

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