UPATOI MURDER TRIAL: Judge denies motion to change venue

Updated: Feb. 1, 2018 at 4:49 PM EST
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COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) - The process of jury selection continues in the Upatoi Murder Trial for the fourth day.

Seventeen-year-old Rufus Burks is set to stand trial for the murders of Gloria Short, her son Caleb, and granddaughter, Gianna Lindsey two years ago.

Two other co-defendants, Jercvarceay Tapley, and Raheam Gibson both pleaded guilty earlier this week.

As attorneys move closer to selecting a jury, defense attorney Jennifer Curry is renewing her motion to change venues. A motion that was previously denied by presiding Judge Gil Mcbride.

"I believe it should take place in another venue, one where individuals are not aware of this case and not aware of the motions and feelings that were involved in it," said Curry.

Prosecutors are quickly disputing this idea as the trial moves forward, and jury selection nears completion.

"We believe Mrs. Curry's motion lacks merit. It has not reached the level envisioned and outlined in the law for a change of venue to be proper," said Assistant District Attorney Chris Williams.

Judge Mcbride denied the motion once more citing lack of ample evidence for the request.

"I think when there is a two year lag between the events issued and a trial is based on those events, fewer and fewer people are going to remember the facts with sufficient specificity to support a change of venue," said McBride.

Attorneys are moving forward in the jury selection process. Twelve jurors have been chosen, along with four alternates.

The plan is to make the decision final Friday morning.

Rufus Burks faces charges of murder, aggravated assault, burglary, and kidnapping.

The State is not seeking the death penalty in this case.

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