Attorney Dave West is seeking a change of venue for Marvin Chase’s trial due to “sensationalized” media coverage that “has improperly characterized the scope of this.”
“Local people have already made their conclusions,” West said in a phone interview.
West said he is astounded by the pre-trial publicity the case has caused, and the Marietta-based lawyer chastised local media for reporting the arson arrest “without independent verification.”
He said he believes too many potential jurors in the “small county” saw his client “smeared” by local media outlets, adding that a fair trial in Walker County “would be impossible.”
The sheriff made malicious remarks “before they had all their facts,” West said. “My client categorically denies he was involved.”
In the next two weeks, West said he plans to file a motion to dismiss the indictment and a motion to suppress Chase’s statement to investigators.
If a change of venue is granted, the attorney said, a “county with a similar demographic will have to be found.”
Chase faces eight counts of arson stemming from indictments in January 2012. He began as a volunteer firefighter in 2005. The city suspended him in 2006. He returned to duty in 2007 before his arrest on Dec. 15, 2010.
An unidentified witness provided the “missing link” in the case, according to West, supporting local law enforcement suspicions that pegged Chase as the alleged arsonist.