Judge won’t move trial for woman accused of driving into officers
by Lindsay Field
August 28, 2013 12:25 AM | 2503 views | 0 0 comments | 9 9 recommendations | email to a friend | print
MARIETTA — A judge Tuesday denied a motion to relocate the trial for a woman accused of running over two Cobb County sheriff’s deputies with her car, but said she could revisit the issue once jury selection began.

Candida Rychell Summerlin’s attorney, William Boddie, asked during a hearing before Cobb County Superior Court Judge Lark Ingram for a change in venue, citing heavy media coverage of his client’s incident and potential bias jurors might have because it involved two deputies.

“I read the motion before I got in here (Tuesday) and have been thinking through what both (Boddie and Cobb Chief District Attorney Don Geary) have said and I just don’t think this motion is right at this point,” Ingram said. “I think we need to get to (jury selection) and look at it at that point.”

Summerlin faces 13 separate charges, including two counts each of attempted malice murder and felony murder, hit-and-run, first-degree criminal damage to property and aggravated assault on a police officer. She also faces one count each of aggravated battery, fleeing from police and interference with government property.

The attempted murder charges relate to Summerlin allegedly hitting Sgt. Ronnie Kite and Lt. Rebekah Westenberger with her car May 31 in the Cobb County jail parking lot off County Services Road in Marietta.

Her attorney said during the 30-minute hearing Tuesday that he wanted the trial moved out of Cobb because of the amount of media attention the incident received.

“This case has had a lot of media coverage,” Boddie said. “It is our assertion that my client cannot get a fair and impartial trial, your honor.”

In an attempt to back up his motion, Boddie submitted four pieces of evidence, all of which were newspaper or TV news reports, and referenced reader comments under online stories, including “lock her sorry butt up,” “she has some mental issues” and “on the road to killing somebody.”

“These are very powerful comments … hostile comments,” Boddie said, adding that the people who submitted them could be potential jurors for Summerlin’s trial. “It’s almost impossible that she can get a fair trial.”

He recommended moving the trial to central or south Georgia in a community where the demographics are reflective of Cobb County’s.

Boddie also argued that because the Cobb County Sheriff’s Office is such a large employer — with more than 700 employees — he believes it will be tough to find a juror who doesn’t know a deputy or know someone who knows a deputy.

“This is a big but close-knit county,” Boddie said. “At least half the county knows about the case.”

In Geary’s response to the motion, he cited the Andrea Sneiderman trial in DeKalb County. She was accused of conspiring to have her late husband killed by a former boss.

“In the Sneiderman case, it had publicity for years and (the defense) made the same complaint, that they would never get a fair jury,” he said. “It took two and a half days to get a fair jury and they sat one. There were people who didn’t know about the case.”

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