JOPLIN, Mo. – The defense attorneys for a Lawrence county murder suspect are pushing for an outside jury for the trial.
Monday’s hearing was for a change of venue, more specifically, a change of jurors. Back in August of last year, Sarah Pasco of Aurora was shot and killed and another woman shot and injured in Lawrence county.
Authorities have charged ten people in the case, five are charged with capital murder, four are charged with first-degree murder, and another is charged with hindering prosecution of a felony.
Monday, a change of venue hearing was at the Jasper County Courthouse in Joplin for one of those defendants, Gary Hunter Jr., who could be facing the death penalty.
The defense pushed a case for a jury to be selected from Jackson county, stating the local jury pool has been contaminated by media coverage from media outlets in Joplin and Springfield. The prosecution says it disagrees. Assistant Prosecuting Attorney Roscoe Miller says “I think it’s unnecessary, that’s not the rule, that’s not the theory, this is a death penalty case, so I understand what the judge has to consider, we’ve got to make sure the trial is fair for the defendant and when we’re asking for this serious of a consequence, we need to make sure we are protecting those rights, but I do think it’s an unnecessary expense to travel up there for a week and then bring them back down.”
From here, the judge will consider the evidence, and make a determination on whether the local jury pool is contaminated based on media coverage of the case. That will be taken up at the pre-trial hearing scheduled for May 12th.
The attorney for the defense, Thomas Jacquinot, left the courthouse before we could ask him for an interview.