ST. LOUIS (KMOX) – A former city police officer accused of murder in the line of duty might ask for the trial to be moved elsewhere, after the release of video evidence showing the fatal shooting.
The St. Louis Post-Dispatch published video evidence this week of the December 2011 fatal shooting of drug suspect Anthony Lamar Smith by then-officer Jason Stockley.
Stockley has claimed the shooting was in self defense, but his attorney says the release of the video may prejudice potential jurors.
“So, we’re very concerned going forward that this has perhaps tainted the local jury pool,” said defense attorney Neal Bruntrager.
Bruntrager says no final decision has been made to seek a change of venue, but calls such a decision “likely.”
“A person who is charged with an offense has a right to a jury that is impartial and has not made up its mind,” Bruntrager said, “and our concern is that this would make it difficult for people to be impartial.”
Circuit Attorney Jennifer Joyce’s office released a statement on the possibility of a change of a venue:
“While we understand there is a lot of public interest in this case, our prosecutors must focus their efforts on pursuing this case in a court of law and not in the media.
“Regarding Mr. Stockley’s request for a change of venue, these requests are common in high-profile cases like this and rarely granted. Judges take seriously a particular community’s right to determine whether the state has proven its case beyond a reasonable doubt. The law specifically requires a trial in the location where the crime is alleged to occur and this law has very few exceptions.
“This is an important foundation of the criminal justice system. The release of this videotape is a violation of a court order. Publicity like this does not automatically trigger a change of venue nor does it change the ability of citizens to fairly and objectively asses a defendant’s guilt or innocence in a court of law.”
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