‘Change of venue’ expensive for counties

File Photo
File Photo

EFFINGHAM, Ill. (WTHI) – Murder cases are not only the toughest to try; they’re also the most expensive. Costs soar if the case is moved to another county in what’s called “a change of venue.”

When Justin DeRyke pleaded guilty to murder in Effingham County Court, he saved the family of Willow Long the pain of going through an emotional trial. State’s Attorney Bryan Kibler says DeRyke also saved the county hundreds of thousands of dollars.

“Odds are if this had gone to trial, there would have most likely been a motion to change the venue, and quite frankly I probably would have agreed with it,” said Kibler.

In order for a trial to be moved, one or both sides have to prove to a judge that they cannot find an impartial jury in the county where the alleged crime was committed. The Willow Long case made national headlines, and was heavily covered in local media. Not to mention, the multiple searches for willow involved the help of thousands of Effingham County residents.

In his 8 years as Vigo County’s prosecutor, Terry Modesitt has dealt very little with changes of venue. “It’s not as uncommon for the motion to get filed. But it’s rare to get granted,” said Modesitt.

That’s because the publicity surrounding a case must be extraordinary.

The list of local cases relocated are few but notorious (including but limited to these cases): Chad Cottrell’s triple murder case, and the Orville Lynn Majors case. Coverage and talk of these cases were off the charts.

“Theoretically, you want jurors that don’t know anything about the case, so now it’s first impression on everything as far as the evidence. This is the first time they’re hearing everything,” said Modesitt.

Then there’s the case of Indianapolis police officer David Bisard, which was moved from Marion to Allen County. He was convicted or driving his police car into a group of motorcyclists, killing one. News 10 received a copy of a bill Allen County sent to Marion County for more than $25,000. It covered things like housing the prisoner, meals and lodging for jurors, and court staff costs. This is just one part of what the trial actually cost MarionCounty.

So Kibler’s estimation that DeRyke’s trial would have cost at least $100,000 was most likely an accurate one. Kibler says he was prepared to go to trial if DeRyke didn’t plead guilty.

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