|Thursday, November 06, 2003
Judge wants to move Knox trial to Lynchburg
|The case's publicity will impede finding a fair jury, lawyers had argued.
By Jen McCaffery
The federal judge in the case against Roanoke pain specialist Cecil Byron Knox and two of his associates has decided the case should be moved to federal court in Lynchburg, according to court documents.
Chief U.S. District Judge Samuel Wilson told lawyers in the case during a conference call Monday that he wanted to transfer the case because he thought the publicity that surrounded the case would make it hard to find a fair jury in the retrial of the remaining charges, lawyers said.
Wilson also told the lawyers that he wanted to retry the case within two weeks, according to court documents filed Monday by federal prosecutor Rusty Fitzgerald. And Wilson also told the lawyers that he wanted to separate the remaining drug counts against Knox from the racketeering, conspiracy, and fraud charges.
Fitzgerald argued that federal prosecutors could not retry the case within two weeks, and asked that the new trial be scheduled after Jan. 1, 2004.
Defense attorneys for Knox and his practice have asked for the case to be heard in March 2004.
A federal jury last week found the defendants not guilty on about half of the 69 charges in the indictment. The jury was unable to decide on the remaining charges, and prosecutors have said they still plan to prosecute the defendants on those charges.
Knox, 54, still faces two counts that he distributed narcotics outside the scope of legitimate medical practice, which led to the death or serious injury of at least one person. He also faces distribution counts, although the number of acts is unclear.
His office manager, Beverly Gale Boone, was found not guilty of the drug charges she faced. But, like Knox, Boone, 44, still faces racketeering, conspiracy, health care fraud and mail fraud charges.
Knox's practice, Southwest Virginia Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, also still faces racketeering, conspiracy and fraud charges.
Licensed professional counselor Willard Newbill James, 58, also still faces conspiracy and fraud charges. The first trial began Sept. 10 and took about eight weeks.
Fitzgerald's motion said federal prosecutors opposed Wilson's intention to try aspects of the remaining counts separately.
"The United States asserts that the allegations should be considered as a whole, by one jury, and that breaking the indictment up into smaller fragments will lead to confusion, duplication and further unnecessary delay," Fitzgerald wrote.
Roanoke attorney David Damico, who is representing James, said he favored the separation of the charges.