Defense in Police Beating Case Wants Trial Moved Out Of Detroit
DETROIT (AP) _ A lawyer for three of four police officers charged in the beating death of a motorist said a trial should be moved out of the city, where the mayor already has labeled the attack murder.
Wayne County Prosecutor John O’Hair has promised to fight any attempt to move the trial if there is one.
District Court Judge Willie Lipscomb Jr. will decide whether the officers will be tried after a hearing Dec. 14.
″My philosophy on this was formed long ago,″ O’Hair said after the officers’ arraignment Monday. ″It seems absolutely beyond belief that we could not find a jury that could not be fair and impartial.″
Officers Larry Nevers and Walter Budzyn are charged with second-degree murder in the death of Malice Green. Green, 35, died of head injuries after being bludgeoned with at least one flashlight Nov. 5 on an inner-city street near a suspected drug house.
Sgt. Freddie Douglas was charged Monday with involuntary manslaughter and willful neglect of duty. Officer Robert Lessnau was charged with assault with intent to do great bodily harm.
All four pleaded innocent and were released on personal bond. They have been suspended without pay pending the outcome of the criminal charges.
Three other officers who later arrived at the beating scene were suspended without pay but not charged, for lack of criminal evidence against them. They are, however, subject to a internal police investigation that could result in disciplinary action.
At a news conference the day after Green’s death, police Chief Stanley Knox called it ″a stain on the department.″
On national television a few days later, Detroit Mayor Coleman Young said: ″A young man who was under arrest was literally murdered by police.″
″I don’t believe we’re going to get a fair trial in Detroit,″ said attorney John Goldpaugh, who represented Nevers, Budzyn and Lessnau in court Monday. He said he likely will represent only Nevers if the case goes to trial.
″When you have the mayor of the city calling them murderers before they’ve been tried,″ Goldpaugh said, ″how can they get a fair trial?″
Douglas’ attorney, Armand Bove, said he didn’t know if he would ask that the trial be moved.