Lawyers for a Fort Wayne man facing the death penalty for the murder of four people – including his unborn child – have again argued his trial should be moved or jurors should be brought from another county to hear the case.
And prosecutors countered again, arguing the defense hasn't proven potential jurors for the April 2019 trial of Marcus Dansby are biased against him.
Attorneys on both sides made the arguments last month in a hearing on a request by Dansby, 22, for a change of venue. Allen Superior Court Judge Fran Gull asked each side to submit written arguments – filed this week – on the request.
In a 12-page brief, defense attorneys Michelle Kraus and Robert Gevers repeated earlier claims that social media comments and news coverage of the case have biased potential jurors who could be assigned to hear the case.
News stories “are filled with sensationalism, exaggerations, false information about the character and background of the defendant and opinions related to the defendant's alleged guilt and the particular sentence he deserves,” court documents say.
On the social media comments: “Mr. Dansby is entitled to a fair trial by the State of Indiana, not trial, conviction and sentencing by the individuals in the community via Facebook.”
Dansby is charged in the Sept. 11, 2016, killings of Traeven Harris, 18, Consuela Arrington, 37, Dajahiona Arrington, 18, and the fetus she was carrying, in a home on Holton Avenue. The unborn child was later determined to be his.
A trial is scheduled for April 2019.
Allen County Deputy Prosecutors Tom Chaille, Jeffrey Stineburg and Alison Yeager wrote in a 13-page brief filed Friday that news stories are based on court documents available to the public and that the defense team has not referenced factual errors in the stories. They argue that neither the news stories nor the social media posts show sufficient evidence to move the trial.
“The mere possibility of prejudice is not enough to gain a change of venue,” court documents say. “Simply stated, the law doesn't require that every potential juror be ignorant of the facts surrounding the defendant's case.”
Gull has not ruled on the request.