Rulings delayed in Caroline slaying case

From the Richmond Times-Dispatch: Rulings delayed in Caroline slaying case:

A judge postponed ruling yesterday on whether to move the retrial of a Caroline County woman convicted of killing her law-enforcement husband.

Caroline Circuit Judge Horace A. Revercomb III also delayed ruling on whether jurors could hear about a life-insurance policy that was to benefit Donna L. Blanton. The prosecution argued during Blanton’s first trial that she was in financial straits.

Blanton, 42, is scheduled to be tried again starting Nov. 29 in the October 2003 killing of her husband, Virginia State Police 1st Sgt. Taylor V. Blanton.

She was convicted of first-degree murder and sentenced to 28 years in prison during her first trial in 2005. But the Virginia Court of Appeals this year found that gender wrongly played a role in how Caroline Commonwealth’s Attorney Harvey Latney Jr. selected which potential jurors he did not want to hear the case.

During a pretrial hearing yesterday, Revercomb said he will first try to seat a jury, rather than ruling beforehand on the defense request to move the trial out of Caroline.

Blanton’s attorney, Mark Murphy, told the judge a defense-hired investigator conducted an informal survey of 100 county residents and found that 44 percent of them did not believe Blanton could get a fair trial in the county. He also said 90 percent of those surveyed knew Blanton had been convicted of murder and that those people also knew the retrial was granted because of a legal technicality related to the jury.

Bull. Are you saying that all 100 people that you surveyed knew who Donna Blanton was and there was a trial? I find that hard to believe when only around 25% of people in the county bother to come out to vote (6,811 or so voters in the last election, 15,345 or so registered voters, 27,000 or so people in county).

And 90% bothered to follow the trial from arraignment, trial, to appeal? Again, bull.

I’m sure I could “conduct an informal survey of 100 county residents” and get results that 90% of “county residents” have never heard of Donna Blanton!

“The prejudice against Ms. Blanton is widespread in the citizenry,” he said.

The truth is prejudice?

Murphy also said widespread media coverage, some of which he said included inaccuracies, could hinder his client’s chances of getting a fair trial in Caroline.

Eh? What inaccuracies? Please provide a list.

Latney countered that the survey was unscientific.

Alright, I agree with Latney for once…

Court officials have summoned more than 175 potential jurors for Blanton’s new trial, far more than for her first trial.

Blanton, who did not testify during her trial, told police an unidentified man broke into the couple’s home before dawn on Oct. 16, 2003, shot her 46-year-old husband in the couple’s bed while their children were at home and then fled.

She told investigators she fired at the fleeing killer, but police found no sign of a break-in or footprints on the dew-covered grass, and she quickly became a suspect.

Nice one Kiran. Stick it to Murphy!

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