One of two remaining defendants charged in the murder of an Edgewood father doesn’t think a Pierce County jury would give him a fair trial.
Joshua Reese, 22, blames news coverage and the Internet for poisoning the local jury pool.
“The major problem with selecting a fair jury in 2011 with the age of modern computers, instant Internet access by phone, computer and many more devices, is that the media coverage of the case is always available and never goes away,” Reese’s attorney, Dino Sepe, wrote in a pleading filed last week.
“The defendant believes it will be extremely difficult and perhaps impossible to find 12 jurors who have not already made up their minds concerning Mr. Reese’s guilt in this case.”
Sepe suggests bringing jurors from outside Pierce County to hear the case against Reese, who’s pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder and other felonies in the death of James Sanders.
Deputy prosecutor Mary Robnett, who is trying the case with colleague Karen Watson, said she opposes the request.
“The crime happened in Pierce County. The witnesses are all in Pierce County. The proper venue is Pierce County,” Robnett said.
Sanders, 43, died April 28, 2010, during a robbery at his home. He was shot after he fought back against four people who entered his house by pretending they were interesting in buying a ring he’d advertised on Craigslist.
His wife and his son were beaten during the robbery.
Robnett pointed out that lawyers were able to pick Pierce County juries to hear the trials of two previous defendants in the case, both of whom were convicted.
The defense should be able to weed out people biased by pre-trial publicity during jury selection, she said.
Sepe argues news coverage of the trials of Kiyoshi Higashi and Amanda Knight are part of the problem.
“From late February 2011 to May 12, 2001, the media covered both the trial of codefendant Higashi and the ‘circus’ he attempted to create out of it and the trial of Amanda Knight, whose defense of duress introduced sensationalism to the case for the media to cover,” the defense attorney wrote in his pleading.
Higashi was sentenced to more than 124 years in prison and Knight to more than 70 years.
Knight, too, requested a change of venue. Superior Court Judge Rosanne Buckner denied that request.
Reese is accused of coming into the house with another man, Clabon Berniard, after Higashi and Knight were already inside.
Reese and Berniard, who is awaiting trial, brought the Sanders’ two sons at gunpoint into the kitchen with their parents, prosecutors say.
Reese fled to California with Higashi and Knight. They were arrested there not long after the robbery.
Reese is to go trial Wednesday.