DES MOINES, Iowa -- In a move that did not surprise legal experts, the man who police say murdered two of their own will not be tried in Polk County.
The trial of Scott Michael Greene will be held in Dubuque.
A district judge granted the defenses’ request for a change of venue, writing:
“The murder of these two police officers has resulted in the entire community coming together to support the families of the victims...the court finds the past media coverage and the ongoing interest in, and coverage of, this case creates a substantial likelihood a fair and impartial trial cannot be preserved with a jury selected from Polk County.”
Residents of Polk County agree.
“For him he would definitely want to get it moved for sure because the feelings around here are we want him to pay the price” said Kathy Schreck.
Drake Law Professor Robert Rigg says the defense is only hoping for a jury that doesn't already have its mind made up.
“What you're hoping for as a defense lawyer is not that the jury panel hasn't heard of the case, ideally that would happen, but if they have heard about it they haven't formed an opinion about the result they want to get to before they hear the evidence” said Rigg.
Rigg calls moves like this one a cornerstone of the justice system.
“Whoever’s sitting in the Polk County Jail on a pretrial basis is presumed innocent; and those individuals are entitled to a jury trial and they're entitled to a fair and impartial jury, and we wouldn't ask any less for ourselves” said Rigg.
That being said, those in this community say they'd like to see the trial in Polk County.
“I do want to see it happen here” said Schreck.
“I think it should be in the state and county where it happened” said Austin Viggers.
Others feel regardless of where the trial takes place, justice will be served.
“The outcome's going to be the same, so whether he gets found guilty there or here it doesn't matter, he's getting life” said Chris Caster.
Professor Rigg says in today’s world where news is widely accessible it will be hard to find a jury in Dubuque that has no prior knowledge of this case, but moving the trial is necessary to uphold the rights guaranteed to those charged with a crime.
“It’s tough enough to try a murder case if you’re a defense lawyer under the best of circumstances, but when you’re going up against that tide of opinion and feeling in the community it makes it really tough. Honestly sometimes its best just to change the venue, move it to a different location, let the process play out and let the jury make their decision not based on anything that happened here locally”.
The trial is scheduled for September 17th but Rigg says that could change based on witness or expert availability.