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By David Madden

COATESVILLE, Pa. (CBS) – Pennsylvania recently reauthorized the use of grand juries to indict criminal defendants in certain circumstances, instead of going the traditional route of a preliminary hearing.

The option has only been used twice in the state: once in Philadelphia and now in Chester County.

Three men will stand trial for the murder of Dominique Williams during an armed robbery in Coatesville last year. Chester County DA Tom Hogan decided to use the new legal option out of an abundance of caution.

“This particular case met the definition where we are allowed to use the indicting grand jury. Specifically this was the type of case where there was either a threat of witness intimidation or a likelihood of witness intimidation,” Hogan explains.

He notes there’s been such intimidation in the past involving violent crimes in Coatesville.

Hogan believes the grand jury option will get more use statewide, not just from violent crimes like murder, but also in child abuse cases, particularly those within a family.

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