In a response filed last week, the prosecutor said bringing a jury from outside Walker County to LaFayette will ensure a fair trial.
A judge will soon decide whether the case will held in Walker County or somewhere else in Georgia.
Cobb Judicial Circuit Superior Court Judge James Bodiford will hear pretrial motions Monday and Tuesday in the Tri-State Crematory case.
Former crematory operator Brent Marsh faces 787 felony counts related to 334 sets of uncremated remains recovered from the property surrounding his business. The charges include theft by deception, abuse of corpse and burial service fraud.
Marsh’s defense attorney, Ken Poston, has said he fears for his client’s safety and believes overwhelming media coverage has tainted the jury pool in Walker.
“There are no safety concerns sufficient to warrant the actual conduct of the entire trial to another county,” Lookout Mountain Judicial Circuit District Attorney Herbert “Buzz” Franklin said in a Nov. 6 response to Poston’s request to relocate the criminal trial.
In the response, Franklin asked Bodiford to select a jury from another county and bring the jurors to Walker if he decides against using local jurors.
County coordinator David Ashburn has estimated conducting the trial in the Walker County Courthouse could cost taxpayers about $100,000. If the trial is moved elsewhere in the state, that cost could balloon to more than $1 million to cover security, courtroom rental, travel, lodging and food expenses.
Poston in September filed 27 motions including a request for indigent status and a motion to dismiss indictments he claims are unfounded. Poston said bodies are not considered property, according to Georgia law.
“These counts allege a ‘fiduciary’ relationship between the accused and the ‘owners of the dead bodies,’” Poston said in his motion to dismiss indictments. “These counts, as charged, fail to adequately charge the defendant with any offense against the laws of the state of Georgia.”
Bodiford will preside over the hearings, which begin at 9 a.m. on Monday and Tuesday, in the Walker County Courthouse Annex at the intersection of South Duke Street and Villanow Street in LaFayette