Judge refuses to move high profile murder case from Ozark

Booking photo from Montgomery County Jail.
Booking photo from Montgomery County Jail.(WTVY News 4)
Published: Oct. 15, 2019 at 6:55 PM CDT
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MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) - A judge has denied the state’s motion to reconsider the trial venue for the murder case involving Montgomery Police Department Officer Cody Smith.

Smith is charged for the on-duty shooting death of Greg Gunn on Feb. 25, 2016.

In September, prosecutors asked a judge to reconsider a venue change in the case. The Alabama Supreme Court granted a petition for a change of venue and appointed retired Circuit Judge Philip Ben McLauchlin Jr., of Dale County, to preside over the trial.

McLauchlin moved the trial to Dale County, located 85 miles southeast of Montgomery. The state argued the move was still within the media footprint of WSFA 12 News and the Montgomery Advertiser and contended potential jurors had likely seen news of a former judge’s comments that prompted a recusal and change of venue order.

Prosecutors believed the law required the trial to be moved to a new media market but Smith’s defense team filed a motion objecting to the prosecutor’s request, believing Dale County was far enough away from what they described as racial prejudice against Smith.

The trial is set for November.

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