WICHITA FALLS (KFDX/KJTL) — Officials with the Wichita County District Attorney’s Office have responded to a capital murder defendant’s request to have his upcoming trial moved out of Wichita County.
Corey Trumbull, 33, is charged with capital murder, murder, and tampering with physical evidence in connection to the horrific death of Logan Cline, 11, whose body was found in an abandoned car in Wichita Falls in February 2020.
On July 14, 2023, what would’ve been Cline’s 15th birthday, Trumbull’s defense team filed a motion to change the venue of his capital murder trial, stating that potential jurors in Wichita County have “so great a prejudice against him that he cannot receive a trial by an impartial jury free from outside influences.”
Fair trial possible in Wichita County, prosecution says
Prosecutor Kyle Lessor, on behalf of the Wichita County District Attorney’s Office, filed a response to Trumbull’s request for a venue change, arguing that Trumbull can be fairly tried in Wichita County and that jurors are capable of returning “an impartial and true verdict”.
Later in the response, the prosecution said the Code of Criminal Procedures authorizes a change of venue when there exists in the county “so great a prejudice against the defendant that he cannot obtain a fair and impartial trial,” and that the defendant who seeks a venue change bears the “heavy” burden of proof that a change is necessary.
Citing case law, the state alleges that a defendant referencing pretrial publicity as grounds for the venue change must show that the publicity is “pervasive, prejudicial, and inflammatory” and that “by itself, widespread publicity is not inherently prejudicial.”
The response quotes the case Suniga v. State, 2019, which said, “Prominence does not necessarily produce prejudice, and juror impartiality… does not require ignorance.”
Further, the state cited Buntion v. State, 2016, which said “Extensive knowledge of the case or defendant in the community as a result of pretrial publicity is not sufficient if there is not also some showing of prejudicial or inflammatory coverage.”
The response from the prosecution asks the Court to deny the change of venue motion at this time and to “allow the voir-dire process to demonstrate that he may receive a fair trial in Wichita County”.
Sworn affidavits from six Wichita County residents
According to the state’s response, six witnesses who represent a “cross-section of the Wichita County community” signed affidavits that stated Trumbull can indeed receive a fair trial in the county.
Four of the six affidavits signed by residents of Wichita County said in their sworn affidavits that they weren’t even aware of Trumbull’s case. All six said of themselves that they were informed citizens who keep up with current events.
The response from the prosecution said all six community members who signed affidavits testified that Trumbull can be fairly tried by a jury in Wichita County and that citizens of the county “can be expected to only take the evidence presented at trial into consideration and return an impartial and true verdict.”
Investigator with DA’s office testifies
The response from the state also includes a sworn affidavit with the testimony of an investigator with the Wichita County District Attorney’s Office.
In the investigator’s affidavit, he testifies that after conducting a Google search concerning Trumbull’s case, he found that “the majority of the articles and stories about the case were published in March 2020”, when Trumbull was extradited from Las Vegas to Wichita Falls.
The investigator further testified in his signed affidavit that in his 12 years as an investigator, he has been involved with many trials of violent offenses. He said the publicity surrounding Trumbull’s case “is not significantly heavier in volume or more inflammatory in character than other violent cases that have been tried by the district attorney’s office.”
The investigator’s testimony concludes with him stating he’s witnessed jury selection in notable cases in Wichita County. He testified that he believes a jury pool from Wichita County can give Trumbull a fair and impartial trial.
Wichita County Commissioner weighs in
The prosecution also included in their response to Trumbull’s motion to change the trial’s venue an affidavit signed by Jeff Watts, Wichita County Commissioner for Precinct 4.
In the affidavit, Watts testified that his constituents have neither contacted him about Trumbull’s case nor even conversed with him about the case.
Watts later testified in his affidavit that the pretrial media coverage of Trumbull’s case has been “neutral, accurate, fair, and not prejudicial,” and that Trumbull can receive a fair trial in Wichita County.
The change of venue motion is set to be heard on Friday, August 4, 2023, at 1:30 p.m. in the 30th District Court, with Judge Jeff McKnight presiding. Pending any delays resulting from Friday’s hearing, the jury trial is set to get underway on August 21, 2023.
This is a developing story. Stick with Texoma’s Homepage for updates as more information becomes available. All individuals charged with a crime are presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.