View Full Version : Judge Says No To Shaw Murder Trial Move

08-29-2010, 12:37 PM

The undocumented immigrant who is charged with murdering a standout Los Angeles High School football player had his motion for a change of venue denied on Saturday.

Pedro Espinoza, 20, is accused of shooting 17-year-old Jamiel Shaw Jr. about 8:30 p.m. March 2, 2008, in the 2100 block of Fifth Avenue, while he was talking with his girlfriend on the phone two doors from his home.

Prosecutors said they will seek the death sentence if Espinoza is convicted.

Espinoza's attorneys, Csaba Palfi and David Houchin, had asked Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Bob Bowers Jr. to allow the trial to be moved outside Los Angeles County because of extensive pretrial publicity.

Palfi said the judge denied the motion without prejudice, which allows the defense to renew its motion.

"It is without question that this homicide shocked the Los Angeles community when it occurred and has been given, and will continue to be given, pervasive attention in this county from which all prospective jurors will be drawn," the attorneys wrote in their change-of-venue motion. "Media coverage has been both sensational and inflammatory."

The defense wanted the trial moved to Santa Barbara County where, Palfi said, "the publicity wouldn't be as great."

In his written response, Deputy District Attorney Bobby Grace said the initial heavy media attention has dropped off.

"This is due to many reasons, including the passage of time, and other high-profile cases in the city. The most important reason would be that the case simply lost attention in the large Los Angeles media market," the prosecutor wrote. "The nature and extent of the coverage does not support a change of venue."

The shooting occurred a day after Espinoza was released from jail, where he had been serving time for assault with a deadly weapon. Shaw's parents unsuccessfully sued the county, alleging that Espinoza, an alleged gang member, was a "dangerous felon and an immigration violator" who should have been turned over to immigration authorities instead of freed.

Army Sgt. Anita Shaw, who was in Iraq when her son was slain, and Jamiel Shaw Sr. mounted an unsuccessful petition drive aimed at getting a law passed that would enable police to arrest illegal immigrant gang members and hand them over to federal authorities.

Under a policy established in 1979, Los Angeles police officers are forbidden from stopping or questioning people solely about their immigration status.