FARGO — The trial of a Moorhead man accused of shooting a food truck owner in downtown Fargo almost two years ago likely will be pushed back several months after the defense received a large amount of new evidence.
The defense of Kareem Lee Byrd Jr., 21, said Wednesday, April 7, in Cass County District Court it recently received 41 disks with roughly 250 gigabytes of evidence from the state. The evidence includes interviews and phone calls surrounding the 2019 fatal shooting of 38-year-old Jason “Jay” Allen Halvorson near his food truck, Texas Q BBQ and Catering, which at the time was parked at the former Sahr's Sudden Service station at 601 Fourth St. N., in Fargo.
Byrd is scheduled to go to trial July 20 on Class AA felony charges of murder and conspiracy to commit murder, two counts that could send him to prison for life if he is convicted.
It won’t be possible to review all the new information by July, even if the defense stops working on other cases to focus solely on Byrd’s, said Grand Forks attorney David Dusek, who was assigned in late December to defend Byrd.
“There’s so much information to go through,” Dusek said.
Prosecutors allege Byrd and 32-year-old Charles Edward Harris III of Fargo got into an altercation with Halvorson on June 7, 2019. The duo then returned to Harris’ apartment, retrieved guns and returned to the food truck to shoot Halvorson, court documents alleged.
No witnesses who may have seen the shooting have come forward. Byrd and Harris were arrested during a traffic stop after a Clay County Sheriff’s deputy saw the vehicle they were in driving away from the downtown area.
Byrd allegedly told police about the weapons they used in the shooting, according to court documents.
Harris pleaded guilty last week to murder and was sentenced to 25 years in prison. He agreed to cooperate with prosecutors in their case against Byrd, but it’s unclear if he would testify in court.
Dusek said he and his client discussed a November date, but that was before they received the new evidence.
Cass County Assistant State’s Attorney Tanya Martinez acknowledged the defense has a lot of evidence to review. Halvorson's family wants the case to move forward since it is almost two years old, but they also understand the defense needs time to review the information so Byrd can have a fair trial, she said.
If the defense does not have enough time to review evidence, it could trigger an appeal — something Martinez said prosecutors and Halvorson's family want to avoid.
A new trial date had not been set as of Wednesday.