AMES --- A Story County District judge moved the trial for a man accused of killing an ISU golfer from Story County to Decorah in Northeast Iowa's Winneshiek County.
Collin Richards, 22, is charged with first-degree murder in the Sept. 17 slaying of former ISU golfer Celia Barquin Arozamena, whose body was found at Coldwater Golf Links in Ames.
During Monday's hearing, Story County District Court Judge Bethany Currie listened to attorneys for the state and Richards to decide if the trial should be moved to a new venue.
Defense attorney Ted Fisher said there are many factors of a fair trial that needed to be looked at when it came to moving the trial. Those things were mainly about the media coverage of the case thus far, stating the emotion, factual and history of the coverage needed to be examined.
Fisher said certain media venues had intense coverage at the time of the incident and has diminished after Richards' arrest, but local media has had substantial coverage and emotional coverage.
"This is a tragedy that is not limited to a campus or city," Fisher said.
Richards' attorneys proposed Fort Dodge as the new venue for the trial.
Assistant Story County Attorney Shean Fletchall said an issue the defense brought up in its motion to change trial venue was the prominence of Iowa State University and the people involved with the university.
"That doesn't inherently prevent (the trial) from being fair," Fletchall said about the substantial population of staff and students in the area.
Fletchall proposed a map showing the number of alumni in each county from ISU across the state.
"Any county, no matter where you go won't (not) have someone from ISU," he said.
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Fletchall said the state has 40 witnesses it would have to accommodate if the trial were to be moved, and that would be "prejudice" to those witnesses.
Fletchall said media coverage has diminished, and that while local stories are emotional in nature because of the loss in the community, the coverage is not inflammatory.
"(Emotional coverage) doesn't create bias towards this particular defendant," Fletchall said.
The state proposed Webster County as a change of venue.
Currie addressed the state's exhibit regarding ISU alumni in the state and said that the real issue was local media coverage.
"Rather, the issue is the publicity that was created in the Des Moines and Ames area," she said.
Currie said people in that area received two to three times more coverage of the case than in other areas of the state.
Currie said her decision to move the case to Winneshiek County, which is 176 miles from Nevada, was because of its location and it being "outside the Des Moines and Ames media market." Trial continues to be scheduled for Sept. 10.
A pool of 120 prospective jurors will be called for jury selection, Currie said.
When it came to the state's claim that moving the trial would be prejudicial to the witnesses who would have to travel, Currie said, "Mr. Richards' right to a fair trial is more important."