STEUBENVILLE -- Judge Thomas Lipps this morning granted immunity to a 17-year-old Steubenville High School student testifying in the rape case against two of his fellow classmates.
The student, one of three who testified in the October preliminary hearing and who witnessed the alleged rape, took the stand shortly after 9 a.m. this morning. The first question to the witness was for him to spell his name for the record and to give his age, and also to discuss the events of Aug. 11 from his perspective. At that time the witness invoked his 5th Amendment rights against self-incrimination.
Prosecutors made a motion to compel the witness' testimony, which raised objections from defense attorneys. Defense attorney Walter Madison also said he was opposed to granting immunity to the witness, and that there appeared to be no case law in the juvenile system about granting immunity during a juvenile proceeding.
The state said such precedence exists, and Lipps granted the witness immunity from future prosecution in this case due to what he called the "furtherance of justice."