A man set for trial this month on charges that he killed three people in 2013 will have his case heard in St. Johns County, a judge ruled. The man is accused of killing his wife and his two children in Central Florida, according to a report in the Orlando Sentinel. Police said the man has admitted to killing his wife but has denied any involvement in the death of their children, who were last seen in 2013 and are believed to be dead, though they have not been found, the newspaper reported. As one might imagine, the case has generated a plenty of attention from newspapers and television stations in the area.
The defendant’s criminal defense attorneys filed a motion to have the trial moved outside of Central Florida, arguing that the media attention would harm the man’s right to a fair trial in front of an impartial jury. These requests are made frequently in high-profile Florida Murder Cases, but are not often granted. Moving the trial can be expensive and cumbersome, and prosecutors in most cases will argue against moving the trial. In this case, however, the judge agreed to move the trial from Deland in Central Florida to the St. Johns County Courthouse in St. Augustine, the newspaper reported. The two cities are about 75 miles away. When trials are moved for the purpose of being able to convene an impartial jury, the move is often made to the closest city where the sides can agree jurors wouldn’t know about the case. They key is moving it outside the media market. Jurors in St. Johns County residents may have heard of the case, but likely would not be aware of the intense media attention that was given to the case in the Daytona Beach or Orlando media markets.
Another issue is whether the media attention has been concentrated to a particular region. For example, defense attorneys sought to move the trial of a Jacksonville man eventually convicted of shooting a teen in a dispute over loud music at a gas station. The judge decided to keep the trial in Jacksonville, at least in part because the case had generated so much national and statewide media attention that moving the trial 75 miles as in this Florida Murder Case would not make that much of a difference. The right to trial in front of a fair and impartial jury is essential to our criminal justice system. Defendants are innocent until proven guilty and it the state’s responsibility to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. Our St. Johns County Criminal Defense Attorney represents people accused of all types of crimes and will thoroughly investigate the case against your or your loved one so you can make the best decision on how to proceed with the case.
If you or a loved one needs a criminal defense attorney in Jacksonville or the surrounding area, call The Mussallem Law Firm at (904) 365-5200 for a FREE CONSULTATION. Our St. Johns County Violent Crimes Attorney, Victoria “Tori” Mussallem, is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.