EYEWITNESS LOCAL NEWSTRIPLE MURDER CASE
from Eyewitness News Online
Venue Change Denied For Sniper Trial
Reported by: Bob Aaron
Videographer: Matt Durrett, John Tincher
Web Producer: Bethany Simmons
Reported: Feb. 9, 2012 11:31 AM EST
Updated: Feb. 21, 2012 6:07 PM EST
Charleston , Kanawha County , West Virginia
Lawyers for the man charged in three sniper-style murders at Kanawha County gas stations in 2003 had argued 1400 TV news stories and 200 newspaper articles showed he could not get a fair trial in Charleston.
But Judge Duke Bloom rejected Shawn Lester's change of venue motion Tuesday. Bloom ruled that Lester could get a fair trial in Kanawha County saying most of the stories were years ago and did not name Lester.
Prosecutors contend Lester pulled the trigger in what were thought to be random slayings, but were really drug related hits. Public defenders say they may petition the state Supreme Court to review Bloom's ruling prior to the late May trial.
The families of murder victims Gary Carrier, Jeanie Patton and Okey Meadows were relieved the trial will be here. Judge Bloom's ruling says Lester failed to show people in the jury pool are hostile to Lester or that he could not get a fair trial in Kanawha County.
The request to change the location of the Kanawha County sniper trial has been rejected. Shawn Lester's trial will take place in Kanawha County.
Lester's lawyers claim their client will not get a fair trial in Kanawha County due to all of the media attention.
Lester is accused of murdering three people in sniper style shootings back in 2003. Prosecutors say Judge Duke Bloom denied the request Tuesday morning.
The lawyer for the man accused of being the Kanawha County sniper responsible for 3 murders back in 2003 argued Thursday that he cannot get a fair trial in Kanawha County because of pre-trial publicity.
Chief Public Defender George Castelle cited more than 1400 television news reports and 200 newspaper articles about the sniper. He put a WVIT Psychology Professor on the stand who testified that the kind of publicity surrounding the case could have a vivid impact on jurors.
Shawn Lester's attorney argues it's not just the stories but the fear that shootings generated. Prosecutors now say they were drug related but in 2003 everyone thought the slaying of Gary Carrier, Jeanie Patton and Okey Meadows junior were random. None of the victim's families want the change of venue.
Kanawha County Judge Duke Bloom says he is also considering bringing in a jury from out of the county. Prosecutors want to keep the trial here and warn it will be costly to move 100 witnesses for a four week trial. They claim the defense has not shown that Lester cannot get a fair trial here even though there has been an unprecedented amount of publicity.
The FBI also mailed out 60,000 flyers in the county and more than 100 cops ran down 4,000 leads making numerous public contacts. probably a decision late next week on this.
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