NEW YORK (AP) — A judge on Thursday postponed for two months the trial for two jail guards charged with failing to make required checks on Jeffrey Epstein in the hours before his death.
U.S. District Judge Analisa Torres moved the date from April to June 22 after defense lawyers said they needed more time to prepare for trial. The lawyers had sought a six-month delay.
Guards Tova Noel and Michael Thomas have pleaded not guilty to lying on prison records to make it seem they had checked on the financier before his Aug. 10 death at the Metropolitan Correctional Center in Manhattan. New York City’s medical examiner has ruled the death a suicide.
Epstein died while he was awaiting trial on sex trafficking charges that alleged he sexually abused teenage girls at his Manhattan mansion and Florida home.
Montel Figgins, a lawyer for Thomas, told the judge he planned to argue that the indictment against the guards should be tossed because the government unjustly prosecuted the guards rather than superiors or others who may have committed crimes.
Outside court, Figgins said he would file papers with the “selective prosecution” argument soon.
“They set these guards up for failure,” he said. “I think we’re going to be able to demonstrate that there are numerous other officers found to have not filled out papers properly. They didn’t lose their jobs. Nothing happened to these people.”
Figgins said Epstein’s death occurred after prison officials failed to follow instructions to put him in a cell with another inmate and after they let guards work 24 hours in a row, leading some to fall asleep on the job.