GALVESTON, Texas (AP) — Attorneys for a teenager accused of fatally shooting 10 people at a Texas high school want the trial moved to a different city, arguing that the teen should be afforded the same treatment as Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh, serial killer Ted Bundy and other suspects in mass killings.
Dimitrios Pagourtzis, 18, is charged with capital murder for the May 2018 attack at Santa Fe High School that also left 13 others wounded. He appeared in court for the first time Monday as his attorneys urged a judge to move the trial out of Galveston County, where the courthouse is just 20 miles (32 kilometers) east of Santa Fe.
The attorneys said they want to ensure the jury pool is objective. They noted that the trials for McVeigh, Bundy and Washington sniper Lee Malvo were all moved out of the communities where the crimes were committed.
“We have this process the code envisions, that certain cases, because of their notoriety, their emotional impact, simply present too great a challenge to afford a defendant due process,” attorney Nick Poehl told the judge Monday.
Poehl cited social media comments about the Santa Fe school shooting, saying they indicated a bias among residents in Galveston County.
“You’d have a hard time finding anybody in this county who doesn’t know someone, or know someone who knows someone, who wasn’t affected in this case,” he said.
Prosecutors said a fair trial could be held locally, arguing that many details about the attack have not been released.
“There are no videos out there,” Galveston County District Attorney Jack Roady said. “There are no recordings. There are no detailed statements.”
Judge John Ellisor said he will issue a ruling by the end of the week.