Hearing to consider venue change for Farmville murder trial

By Tara Morgan - bio | email

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - We could find out Tuesday if there will be a venue change for the trial of the Farmville murder suspect. Richard McCroskey is accused of killing four people last September.

A Prince Edward County judge will consider at least two motions in the case. McCroskey's lawyer, Cary Bowen, wants to push back the hearing so his client can undergo a psychological evaluation. Bowen also plans to file a motion to move the trial out of Farmville.

The stakes are high said NBC12 legal analyst Steven Benjamin.

"I think there is a pretty good likelihood the judge will be inclined toward changing venue because this is a capital crime that's been charged with a possibility of a death sentence," said Benjamin.

Tuesday marks four months to the day when police captured the California rap artist at the airport. One day earlier, police found the bludgeoned bodies of Pastor Mark Niederbrock, his estranged wife Debra Kelley, their daughter Emma Niederbrock and her friend from West Virginia, Melanie Wells.

McCroskey's legal team is concerned the jury pool has been tainted by intense media coverage.

"Some of those details may or may not have been correct, and it makes it difficult for juries who may have heard things ahead of time to forget those possible facts they may have heard," said Benjamin.

Benjamin said a judge would prefer to have the trial where the crime occurred. The alternative would be a community that mirrors Farmville.

"People in rural communities have different life experiences than people in some of the larger urban areas, and so judges will try to conform to the local community sentiments life experiences and factors such as that when he makes his decision," said Benjamin.

The hearing begins at 9:30 Tuesday morning. Last week, McCroskey's attorney said his client will not be in court.

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