Posted on

Britton granted change of venue

Harrison Superior Court Judge Roger D. Davis granted the defense’s request for a change of venue ‘ the first Davis has granted ‘ in the criminal case involving former Harrison County police officer John Britton.
Davis, who said he would like to see the trial moved outside of the Louisville media market, said the prosecution and defense have 10 days to each come up with three counties to consider for relocation. If the two sides can’t agree, Davis will choose the new location.
Yesterday afternoon, Britton’s attorney, Brandon W. Smith, of Faith-Ingle-Smith, successfully argued that extensive media coverage from The Corydon Democrat, as well as The (Louisville) Courier-Journal and Louisville TV stations, has created, ‘an almost poisonous atmosphere’ that would likely taint a jury pool and keep Britton from receiving a fair trial.
Smith submitted 25 articles from this newspaper, along with feedback to its online stories, that mentioned or were allegedly connected to Britton. The online comments were, Smith described, disturbing and vicious and showed how inflamed passions had become.
Special prosecutor Nancy C. Jacobs argued that there was no way to tell who posted the comments or where those who made the comments resided.
‘They could have been from Crawford County or Washington County,’ Jacobs said. ‘There’s no offering of a sampling of residents from (Harrison) County.’
Jacobs also pointed out that the defense had not objected to anything contained in the articles.
Davis said that, in 2007, a jury was able to successfully be convened in a double-murder case in Harrison County, but, he also referenced a 2004 murder case in Spencer County that was overturned by the Indiana Supreme Court due to pretrial publicity.
‘I think the message to trial courts was that some situations should get a change of venue in highly unusual circumstances and unusual cases,’ Davis said.
In November, a special grand jury indicted Britton on a single charge of Class C felony assisting a suicide after a March 2009 incident in which, after an argument in which his late wife, Christine, threatened to kill herself.
During an interview with Indiana State Police Sgt. Andy Squier, John Britton allegedly said he told his wife, ‘You want to kill yourself, fine,’ and laid a .40-caliber handgun on their bed and walked out of the room. Realizing he’d made a mistake, John Britton allegedly told Squier that he heard a gunshot as he turned back to the bedroom.