|Saturday, February 21, 2004
Burrow trial may be moved
|The judge asked the defense attorneys to file a request on where they'd like the trial to be.
By Jen McCaffery
Everybody seems to have an opinion about the prosecution of former National D-Day Memorial Foundation president Richard Burrow.
That makes picking a jury from the Roanoke and Lynchburg area for Burrow's September trial a concern for federal prosecutors in the case.
At a hearing on the issue in federal court Friday, the federal judge assigned to the case said he heard people talking about the case at any party he attended in the area, and even at church. By the end of the hearing, Senior U.S. District Judge James Turk said he was inclined to move the trial, but wanted to give Burrow the chance to decide where the case should be heard.
There is "great sentiment in the area that he should not be prosecuted," Turk said.
He added that he also hears all the time that "regardless of what he did, he shouldn't be tried."
Burrow, 57, is scheduled to be tried in September on 12 federal charges, including fraud and perjury. His first trial, which took place in December 2002 in Lynchburg, resulted in a hung jury.
Turk agreed with federal prosecutor Patrick Hogeboom that the case had received a lot of media publicity. He asked Burrow's attorneys to file a request within a week as to which division in the Western District of Virginia they would like the case to be tried.
The district has courts in Harrisonburg, Charlottesville, Roanoke, Lynchburg, Danville, Abingdon and Big Stone Gap.
Hogeboom said he had heard that Mill Mountain Theatre was distributing e-mail asking people to support Burrow, and questioned a letter to the editor that he said encouraged people to try to get on the jury for the second trial, then vote for acquittal without considering the evidence.
John Lichtenstein, who is representing Burrow, argued that the media coverage of the case had not all been favorable to Burrow and said that every time Burrow's picture appears in a newspaper, the word "fraud" is next to his photograph.
He also argued that prosecutors failed to show that the coverage of the case had been inflammatory enough to require a change of venue. He pointed out that jurors are vetted during jury selection on whether they can put aside what they already know about the case. And he argued that moving the case would impose a financial burden on Burrow.
Hogeboom also questioned at the hearing whether pretrial publicity may have affected the outcome at Burrow's first trial, in which the jury deadlocked 7 to 5 in favor of acquittal. But Lichtenstein responded that the outcome showed the jurors had considered the evidence.