Racist killing spree suspect can't get fair trial in Fresno County, legal motion claims

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Racist killing spree suspect can't get fair trial in Fresno County, legal motion claims

Attorneys for the man suspected of a racist killing spree and four murders in Fresno will try to get his trial moved out of the county.

Carl Williams, Zackary Randalls, David Jackson, and Mark Gassett were all gunned down in April 2017.

The motion filed this week admits the crime was sensational because it involved multiple murders and racial undertones. It argues a saturation of media coverage in Fresno County will prevent Kori Muhammad from getting a fair trial.

When a gunman marched down Fulton on a killing spree, the news spread quickly with breaking stories on ABC30 and other media outlets.

A survey found 188 stories about the homicides just on TV in the last two years. This would be the 189th.

So many people have heard about it now, a Fresno State professor conducted a survey showing 60% of potential jurors in Fresno County already know the story and believe the suspect is guilty.

"The important part is: None of these people will be on this jury," said legal analyst Tony Capozzi.

The defendant's attorneys say that means his right to a fair trial is tainted, but Capozzi says a motion to move the trial out of Fresno County isn't likely to work right now.
About 40% of the people didn't indicate bias, and assuming the survey applies to the whole county that leaves about 283,000 adults as potential jurors.

"I think it's important for the attorney to make the motion now to ferret out the issue to let the court know about a potential problem and if the evidence is overwhelming at this point in time that you can't pick a jury, then the case will be moved," said Capozzi. "But I think it's too early to tell that."

Capozzi says they'll know if there's a shortage of jurors when they actually conduct jury selection for the trial now scheduled for this May.

Police say the defendant specifically targeted white men as he brought his murder count up to four. He discussed bizarre religious beliefs with a series of psychiatrists, but a judge ruled him mentally fit to stand trial.

The survey found a majority of people already have biases about his sanity too, but jurors will need to have an open mind about it.

"The main issue in this case is going to be whether or not he's sane at the time the act was committed," Capozzi said.

The prosecutor on the case has a week to respond to the motion, and then they'll have a hearing in front of the judge Feb. 21.
Related Topics:
court casemurdercourtracismFresno County
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