CHARDON, Ohio – The defense for a teenager charged with killing three students and wounding three others in a high school cafeteria asked a judge on Friday to move his trial out of the grief-stricken community.
"Geauga County has been in an ongoing state of mourning, anger and community support for the victims and their families," attorneys for T.J. Lane, 17, said in their request.
Every major roadway and every neighborhood in Chardon and surrounding communities has memorials to the victims and the grief poses a risk that any locally selected jury will be biased against him, the defense said.
The defense said media coverage of the shooting has been so extensive and the subject "so disturbing" that it would be impossible to find an unbiased jury in Geauga County, located east of Cleveland.
Geauga County Prosecutor David Joyce said it was too early for such conclusions. "The motion is premature at this time as a jury has not even attempted to be empaneled," he said in an email.
Lane has been charged with aggravated murder, attempted aggravated murder and felonious assault in the Feb. 27 shootings at Chardon High School. He could face life in prison if convicted. He isn't eligible for the death penalty in Ohio because he is under 18.
Prosecutors says Lane has admitted taking a .22-caliber pistol and a knife to the high school and firing 10 shots at a group of students sitting at a cafeteria table at the start of the school day. No motive has been established for the shooting.
Lane attended an alternative school for students who haven't done well in traditional schools. He was at Chardon waiting for a bus.