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A stack of photocopied newspaper articles about Toledo police Detective Keith Dressel's death and the subsequent arrest of his suspected shooter accompanied a motion filed by defense attorneys yesterday to move Robert Jobe's trial to a new county.
Attorneys David Klucas and Ann Baronas filed the motion for a change of venue, saying that the 15-year-old North Toledoan would not receive a fair trial in Lucas County because of extensive pretrial publicity. The motion claimed the "extensive and ongoing" media coverage would make it "presumptively impossible to seat an impartial jury in this county."
The Jobe youth was arrested Feb. 21, hours after Detective Dressel was shot and killed. He is charged with aggravated murder and murder, both with firearm specifications, and faces up to life in prison.
Mr. Klucas has said determining whether a fair jury can be impaneled is not possible until the jury selection process begins Oct. 29. He said yesterday the motion was filed so it was part of the record.
"Even though everyone suspected it was coming, I wanted to get it on so that, number one, it was on, and, number two, there is a legal component to the motion and I didn't want the state in the position that they didn't have time to respond," he said.
Mr. Klucas added that he still anticipates starting jury selection on the first day of trial.
"The case law says that you have to make an attempt to pick a jury here. I don't expect any deviation from the established case law," he said.
In July, Detective Dressel's family expressed concern over the possibility of a change of venue, saying it would add another hardship on the family.
Assistant Prosecutor Dean Mandros, chief of the office's criminal division, said the motion "was not unanticipated." He said only the start of jury selection would tell whether a fair panel could be found. "We'll find out starting Oct. 29," he said.
The motion is just one that has to be decided by Judge Charles Doneghy. Yesterday, attorneys presented oral arguments on whether the teenager's past interactions with police officers could be presented to jurors at his trial.
Mr. Klucas argued that it was asking "way too much of a jury" to believe it could separate the teenager's prior actions with what occurred the night of the shooting. Specifically, prosecutors said they intend to show how the Jobe youth resisted arrest and fled from police before.
"There is a very inviting inference, he did it before, he did it again, and to think that jurors will not make that leap is unrealistic," Mr. Klucas argued. "I think it's best that this trial focus on what happened on Feb. 21, 2007, and nothing before."
Assistant prosecutors argued in a written motion that the Jobe youth's encounters with police on Sept. 7, 2006, and Dec. 29, 2006, are relevant as it relates to his motive on Feb. 21. Mr. Mandros said yesterday the evidence is admissible if it shows "his motive or intent."
"I don't think the jury will think that because he fought with police on prior occasions, it is preordained that he'd shoot a policeman a few weeks later," Mr. Mandros said in response to Mr. Klucas' argument.
Judge Doneghy took the information under advisement. A status conference will be held tomorrow during which the judge is expected to rule on whether the evidence is admissible.
Previously Judge Doneghy ruled that the Jobe youth's statements to police the day of his arrest are admissible at his trial.
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