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Attorneys, prosecutor at odds on Randleman trial location

Jessica Cuffman • Mar 6, 2012 at 8:30 AM

A judge will soon decide if accused cop killer Kevin Randleman should face trial in Erie County or, as defense attorneys have requested, move to a different county where there's been less media coverage.

Randleman's attorneys have asked Erie County Common Pleas Court Judge Tygh Tone to move the trial to another county because of intense media coverage in the case.  

“We have not said Andy Dunn and his family didn’t deserve the press coverage they received,” attorney Jeff Whitacre said. “It’s about Kevin Randleman’s right to a jury trial and how all of that affects him.”

Attorneys offered additional reasons for moving the trial: Law enforcement officers across the state attended Dunn’s funeral last year, and schools closed early for the event. Stickers in Dunn’s memory are plastered on vehicles throughout Erie County these days, while two memorials have also been created in his honor.

Local businesses have also posted signs in support of Dunn, and many local residents wear T-shirts in remembrance of the slain officer. 

In short, if a dozen Erie County residents are chosen to serve as jurors in the trial, it would be like putting Randleman on trial with Dunn’s family members as jurors, Whitacre said.

“Andy Dunn has been adopted as a favorite son in Sandusky,” Whitacre said. “That’s why this county cannot be the one that passes judgment on Kevin Randleman.”

Erie County prosecutor Kevin Baxter said Whitacre's argument is premature — the judge should only change the trial location if the court is unable to assemble a fair and impartial jury.

"I have every bit of confidence that we will be able to seat a jury," Baxter said.

Tone plans to make a decision within a week.

For more on this story, pick up Tuesday's Register.

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