WARSAW — Kosciusko Circuit Court Judge Michael W. Reed has denied Brandon T. Woody’s motion for a change of venue. The ruling was made today, Tuesday, Jan. 12. Woody is charged with the Feb. 19, 2015, murder of Tara Thornburg and Joshua Nisley in Syracuse.
In the order it was noted Woody, by counsel Scott J. Lennox and Joseph A. Sobek, filed a verified motion for change of venue on March 26. The state, represented by Prosecuting Attorney Daniel H. Hampton and Chief Deputy Prosecuting Attorney J. Brad Voelz, filed its memorandum in response on July 14. The defendant filed an amended verified motion for change of venue on July 29, as well as his brief in support of the motion with attached exhibits on Aug. 3. A hearing on the motion was held Jan. 5, in open court.
Reed notes in the order:
“…The burden on a motion for a change of venue rests with the moving party. Underhill v. State 428 N.E. 2d 759 (Ind. 1981)
“…The moving party must establish adverse publicity and that the jurors were unable to set aside their preconceived notions of guilt and render a verdict based upon evidence introduced at trial. Yeagley v. State, 467 N.E. 2d 730 (Ind. 1984); Washington v. State, 496 N. E. 2d, 392 (Ind. 1986); and Neal v. State, 506 N. E. 2d 1116 (Ind. App. 1987).
“…In deciding a discretionary change of venue, the court must balance the rights of the news media, the defendant and the citizens. Mendez v. State, 730 N.E. 2d 323 (Ind. 1977)
“…The defendant has presented evidence of adverse pre-trial publicity.
“…As of this time, the defendant has failed to present evidence of a high probability that potential jurors have been exposed to that publicity or, if exposed, they would be unable to set aside their preconceived notions of guilt and render a verdict based solely upon evidence introduced at trial.”
The judge further ordered that to keep potential jurors from receiving improper character information and/or other inadmissible information arising from extra-judicial evidence, during voir dire, the court will conduct voir dire under such selective and controlled procedures so that this type of information will be limited or kept from potential jurors at the time the actual jury is selected.
In Limine Order Granted
In the other portion of the Jan. 5 hearing, Reed granted the motion for in limine. This order states the defendant filed his motion in limine on Sept. 21, relating to Indiana Rules of Evidence, Rule 404. The state and defense counsel presented argument on Jan. 5.
The judge ordered both the state and the defendant shall comply completely and strictly with Rule 404. The State of Indiana, through its prosecutors and its witnesses, as well as the defendant, through his attorneys and his witnesses, are not to mention, refer to, interrogate concerning or attempt to convey to the jury in any manner, either directly or indirectly, any evidence of any alleged misconduct by the defendant pursuant to Rule 404(b) without the permission of the court. Permission must be first requested and received outside the presence and hearing of the jury.
Both parties are further not to offer into evidence, discuss during jury selection, mention during argument or otherwise bring before the jury any reference to the alleged character traits of the defendant, except as to any such evidence properly admitted by the court after compliance with the procedures set forth in the order.
Both parties are instructed that neither the prosecutors, the defendant or defendant’s attorneys, nor their witnesses are to make any reference of the fact that this motion has been filed and granted and to warn each and every one of their witnesses to strictly follow the instructions.
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