Nashville ,Tn. television station WSMV is running gavel to gavel coverage of the trial of Ron Killings this week. Killings is on trial for the homicide of a young girl.It is alleged that Killings was driving his car at twice the legal speed when he struck and killed the young girl. Killings was on duty as a law enforcement officer in Rutherford County.The District Attorney’s theory was that it was a reckless homicide.A jury was brought in from Chattanooga,Tn to decide the case.Mr. Killings attorney moved for a change of venue due to pretrial publicity.
Rule 21 of The Tennessee Rules of Criminal Procedure provides for a change of venue under certain conditions.The court may change venue of a criminal case on the defendant’s motion or on it’s own initiative with the defendant’s consent.The court should order a venue change when a fair trial is unlikely because of undue excitement against the defendant in the county where the offense was committed or for other cause.
The burden is on the defendant to prove he would not get a fair trial. I have only moved for a change of venue once in my career.The defendant must provide some facts to for a change of venue.Here’s an example:
1. Get a copy of all newspaper articles of the case and attach those to the motion.
2.Goggle the event and determine all Internet discussions.
3.Television reports of the crime and coverage area of the T.V. station.
4.The Tennessean has a comment section on it’s articles I would make a copy of those comments as well.I tried a case in murder case in Gallatin,Tn two years ago where we monitored the comments after a story ran. It gave us a feel of what the community feedback was about the case.