First On WSFA 12 News: Springford Trial Move Now Before Supreme Court; Decision May Come Soon - WTVM.com-Columbus, GA News Weather & Sports

First On WSFA 12 News: Springford Trial Move Now Before Supreme Court; Decision May Come Soon

Updated:

The battle over where accused killer Brent Springford will go on trial is in the Alabama Supreme Court tonight.

The justices could issue a decision in a matter of days.

The question at hand; did widespread news coverage rob Springford of any chance of a fair trial?

WSFA 12 News reporter Chris Holmes has looked at the Supreme Court filings from both sides.

Springford's attorneys are depending on one simple contention; because of the victims' visibility in the community, anyone charged with their murders could never get a fair trial.

"Hundreds of people showed up for their funerals," said Springford lawyer Jay Lewis.  "The case simply drew a lot of attention."

The defense told the court the Montgomery Advertiser ran 22 stories about the murders, and that WSFA 12 News also mentioned Springford's name 170 times since November 2004.

As proof of a likely bias, Lewis points to local internet bulletin boards.

"People's biases and prejudices and opinions are reinforced more," he said.

Prosecutors declined an on-camera interview Monday, but their court filing accuses Springford's attorneys of contributing to the publicity with interviews including several Lewis did with WSFA 12 News in the last few months.

In several previous high profile cases, the courts have kept trials in the cities where the crimes occurred as long as jurors swore the publicity would not influence their decision.

That includes notorious murder cases for Quang Bui, Benjamin Oryang, and Torrey McNabb, who murdered police officer Anderson Gordon.

As a result, prosecutors say Judge William Shashy should have at least tried to seat a jury before forcing everyone to Birmingham. Lewis says that would cause even more complications.

"If you go all the way to jury selection, you've already predisposed the court and everybody else to keep the case where it is," he said.

That's the key argument before the court.

But the Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals rejected the prosecutors' contentions and that's how it ended up before the Supreme Court. The state is supposed to provide justices with its last written argument Thursday.

We could see a quick decision because Springford's case is scheduled for January 7th.   

Prosecutors say if the court forces them to put Springford on trial in Birmingham, it will cost the county at least a quarter of a million dollars.

District attorney Ellen Brooks says she is asking the Montgomery County Commission for help in covering that cost.

Reporter: Chris Holmes

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