Venue change in Smart case still possible

Aug. 17, 2010 at 4:21 PM
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SALT LAKE CITY, Aug. 17 (UPI) -- A federal judge in Utah said he would review juror questionnaires before making a final decision on a change of venue for accused kidnapper Brian Mitchell.

U.S. District Judge Dale Kimball said he would rule in early October on the motion by Mitchell to move his trial in the high-profile alleged abduction of teenager Elizabeth Smart.

Mitchell contends he cannot get a fair trial in Utah due to the publicity over Smart's 2002 disappearance and subsequent rescue nearly a year later.

The Salt Lake Tribune said Tuesday that Kimball planned to review questionnaires filled out by about 500 potential jurors to see if there is indeed a prejudice against the one-time transient.

The newspaper said prosecutors believe Mitchell will get a fair trial in Salt Lake City; however, the defense contends its research shows 92 percent of the jury pool already considers their client to be guilty.

Judge Kimball Monday ruled that the risk of such prejudice was not sufficient enough to automatically order the trial be moved out of state.

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