A judge on Monday turned down a request for a change in venue.
Frederick, Md. (KM) The prosecution and defense attorneys are preparing their respective arguments for the trial of Lloyd Harris, 53. He was apprehended in January, 2016, in Kansas City, Missouri, for the rape and murder of Stacey Lynn Hoffmaster 20 years ago.
On Monday, a Circuit Court Judge rejected a request from defense attorneys for moving the trial to another city. They argued that media coverage of the murder would make it very difficult for their client to get a fair trial in Frederick.
“We do not believe there’s been undue media coverage of this that would be sufficient to taint a jury pool,” says State’s Attorney Charlie Smith.
He also said there is a process for choosing jurors who are fair and impartial. “We are able to pick those people from a jury pool that perhaps have not heard of it, or would remain fair and impartial based upon what they have heard,” says Smith.
In addition, he says each prospective juror is asked certain questions that would indicated whether that person can be impartial when deciding whether Harris is guilty or not guilty. Smith provides some examples. “Are there are police in your family? Are there lawyers in your family? Have you ever been a victim of a crime before? Have you ever served on a jury before? Did you find someone guilty or not guilty.”
Hoffmaster was found in a wooded area near Interstate 70 and East South Street in Frederick on December 23rd, 1996, three months after her family reported her missing. Police say the 15-year-old girl had been strangled.
Harris’ trial is scheduled to begin in March, 2017. “And we believe beyond a reasonable doubt that Mr. Harris is the one that did it,” says Smith. “It’s just that we have to prove that in a court of law. And certainly, he’s innocent until proven guilty.”
By Kevin McManus