COLUMBUS, Ohio — Defense attorneys for Adam Coy, a former Columbus police officer charged with murder in the December shooting death of Andre Hill, are seeking a change of venue for his trial.
They learned Wednesday that the judge assigned to the case isn't ready to rule on their motion, in which they argue that pretrial publicity will make it "impossible" to seat an impartial jury in Franklin County.
Common Pleas Judge Stephen L. McIntosh said he will review the motion, filed three weeks ago by attorneys Mark Collins and Kaitlyn Stephens, and the response filed last week by Assistant Ohio Attorney General Anthony Pierson, who is prosecuting the case, before issuing a written decision.
How soon the trial will occur remains undecided, although it seems unlikely that it will be held this year.
McIntosh conducted a brief hearing Wednesday morning to get an update on the progress of the case from both sides.
Coy, who is free on a $1 million bond, stood between his attorneys during the hearing, but did not speak.
The judge set the next status hearing for Oct. 4, when he hopes he and the attorneys can agree on a firm trial date.
Collins said after the hearing that a trial almost certainly will not occur until sometime in 2022.
Because court operations slowed to a crawl during the pandemic, there is a backlog of unresolved criminal cases, and defendants who are in jail awaiting trial must get priority.
Hill, 47, was exiting a garage at a home where he was an invited guest on the 1200 block of Oberlin Drive on the Northwest Side around 2 a.m. Dec. 22, when Coy shot him.
Coy, 44, and Officer Amy Detweiler, responding to a nonemergency call about a vehicle repeatedly turning on and off, were walking up the driveway of the residence when Hill emerged from the darkened, open garage with an illuminated cellphone in his raised left hand.
Collins has said that Coy fired after mistaking a set of keys in Hill's right hand for a silver revolver. Hill was unarmed.
Neither officer had activated their body cameras before encountering Hill. A "look-back" feature that automatically records the previous 60 seconds captured video, but no audio, of the shooting.
The body-camera footage from those two and other responding officers showed that more than 10 minutes passed before Hill was given any medical aid. He died about 30 minutes after the shooting.
Coy was fired within a week of the shooting and has since been indicted on charges of murder, felonious assault and reckless homicide.
"The publicity of this incident is so pervasive it has gone beyond state and national news outlets to the voice of the public via social media," Collins and Stephens wrote in their motion for a change of venue.
"There is no need to attempt to impanel a jury (in Franklin County) as it would be in vain due to the pervasive prejudice of this pretrial publicity," they concluded.
Pierson filed a motion opposing a change of venue. He argued that the jury selection process, known as voir dire, "provides the best test of whether prejudicial publicity has prevented obtaining a fair and impartial jury from the locality."
During voir dire, prospective jurors are questioned by prosecuting and defense attorneys about their ability to be fair and impartial, regardless of what they've heard about the case.
Coy's attorneys also have asked the judge to allow them to conduct individual voir dire, meaning that potential jurors would be interviewed separately rather than in groups. Pierson has objected to that request as well.
The city of Columbus agreed in May to pay $10 million to Hill's family in the largest settlement in the city's history.
City Council also passed "Andre's Law," a set of ordinances requiring Columbus police officers to have their body cameras on when they respond to calls and to provide medical assistance until paramedics arrive on the scene. Officers can be criminally charged if they do not.
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