POINT PLEASANT — A motion for a change of venue as well as motions for separate trials make up the latest case filings regarding the murder of Rene Gonzalez.
Counsel for Chad McCallister has filed a motion for a change of venue, stating the pre-trial publicity in relation to McCallister and his family has been “extensive, biased and prejudicial.” The motion specifically mentions the news media publishing information released specifically by the investigating law enforcement officials; media the motion claims ultimately described this case as the “‘lead story of 2012.” The motion goes on to say the manner in which the case was investigated, as well as the news coverage of the case, has created a hostile sentiment against McCallister which extends throughout the entire media coverage area of multiple newspapers, radio and television stations which cover Mason County.
McCallister’s counsel also filed a motion responding to the state’s request for discovery, saying McCallister was at his home located on Millstone Road in Apple Grove when the murder took place and was not involved in any conspiracy to murder Gonzalez as alleged. McCallister’s counsel stated in the motion he may call witnesses to support his client’s alibi.
Motions to sever have also been filed by counsel for Matthew C. Woods and Steven L. Adkins, Jr. — these motions basically request the men have their own, separate trials. The motion filed on Woods behalf states McCallister has made a statement to law enforcement which could adversely impact Woods and improperly prejudice the jury against Woods. The motion says if McCallister chooses not to testify in his own defense and if McCallister’s statement in the case against Woods is admitted, it would violate Woods’ sixth amendment right of confrontation. Counsel for Woods has also filed a motion to suppress statements made by Woods on the grounds that these statements were obtained and/or otherwise taken in violation of Woods’ Constitutional rights.
Counsel for Woods has also filed a motion to exclude “gruesome photographs,” including autopsy and body photos of Gonzalez, stating these could arouse “anger” or “passion” and as such are “highly prejudicial” to Woods. Council for Adkins has filed a similar motion in regards to these types of photographs.
Mason County Prosecuting Attorney Damon Morgan has also filed motions requesting the three defendants be required to provide the state blood or saliva specimens as required for further testing in the case. Morgan had previously stated in court he is ready to prosecute the three men together at one, joint trial.
Adkins, McCallister and Woods have all pleaded not guilty to charges of murder and conspiracy regarding Gonzalez’s murder in July 2011. The Honorable David Nibert, circuit court judge, originally set the joint trial to begin on April 10 in Mason County Circuit Court.