A 3rd District judge is considering a motion to move the trials of two men accused in a robbery last April that left a pregnant Kearns woman dead.
Judge Raymond Uno said he will issue an opinion later on whether to grant requests to have the trials of Charles Kenneth Hodges and Raymond D. Young moved to Summit or Tooele counties.Hodges, 44, is charged with first-degree murder and aggravated robbery in the April 22 shooting death of Anna Holmes during a robbery of Video Voyager, 5448 S. 4220 West.
Holmes, 31, was eight months pregnant and died shortly after giving birth to her fourth child following the Kearns shooting.
Young, 34, is charged with aggravated robbery and second-degree murder in the crime.
Defense lawyers for Hodges, also known as Charles McCovey, put the media on trial during a four-hour hearing Wednesday.
Attorneys Andy Valdez and Lisa Remal say extensive media coverage of the robbery and shooting and inaccurate information presented by law enforcement officials resulted in Hodges' getting tried in the press.
The defense wants to have the trial moved to Summit or Tooele counties, where, Valdez said, the community's emotions surrounding the case are not as intense.
The defense presented Willis Pitkin Jr., a linguistics professor at Utah State University, who examined video tapes from the three Salt Lake television stations and copies of stories that ran in the two newspapers regarding the shooting.
The defendants avoided watching a television set in the courtroom while the videotapes played, showing the crime scene and funeral for Holmes.
"I found language that I felt would make it very difficult for people to view this case dispassionately," Pitkin said. But prosecutor Ernie Jones countered that Pitkin had not done any sampling of public opinion regarding press coverage of the case.
And Jones called moving the trial to another county before attempting to seat a jury "premature."
"I don't see how you can grant a change of venue until you get a chance to ask" jurors individually how they feel the publicity may affect their ability to view the case impartially, Jones told Uno.
But Valdez contends "tremendously adverse publicity" has created "extraordinary animosity" for the defendants.
Uno already has agreed to separate the trials for the two defendants. An Oct. 7 hearing is scheduled to hear motions regarding the religious notion of blood atonement to repay for sins and asking jurors their views on the death penalty.