Man accused of killing gay Ole Miss student wants trial location changed

Author: Christopher Wiggins

AMississippiHerrington, 23, of Grenada, is accused of murdering Lee, a 20-year-old gay student who has been missing since July 2022. He was indicted on a capital murder charge in March 2023 and released on a $250,000 bond in December 2022.

Defense attorney Kevin Horan filed a 134-page motion on Monday, arguing that widespread media coverage and social media commentary have made it impossible for Herrington to receive a fair trial in Lafayette County, where the university is located, the Northeast Mississippi Daily Journalreports.

“There has been extensive news coverage of the alleged facts concerning this case,” Horan wrote. “This matter has been widely published and well documented in the media, and counsel for the defendant has good reason to believe it will only continue and potentially worsen moving forward.”

Horan pointed to television and newspaper coverage and several social media posts that contain “negative and false information about Herrington, and positive information and support of ‘Jay’ Lee.” The Lafayette County Circuit Clerk’s office has received numerous letters supporting Lee, and Horan argued thatsocial media supporters have already concluded that Herrington is guilty and that “justice must be served,” the Associated Pressreports.

Related: Trial Date Set for Suspect Accused of Killing Gay Ole Miss Student

Investigators said cell phone records showed Herrington and Lee communicated on the morning of Lee’s disappearance, and Herrington conducted an internet search for “how long it takes to strangle someone” shortly before Lee arrived at his apartment. Surveillance footage captured Herrington running from the location where Lee’s car was later found, and he was observed collecting a shovel and wheelbarrow at his parents’ house, authorities said.

Herrington, who maintains his innocence, was arrested two weeks after Lee’s disappearance. Prosecutors have announced they will not seek the death penalty, meaning Herrington could face a life sentence if convicted.

Mississippilaw allows the defense to request a change of venue if they can demonstrate that a fair trial cannot be held in the original location. Horan presented affidavits from 19 Lafayette County citizens who said they had seen coverage of the case and believed Herrington could not receive a fair trial in the county due to “prejudgment of his case or ill will” toward him, the Daily Journal reports.

“The information that has been publicized online and in newspapers has been severely prejudicial to the defendant to the extent that the potential jury pool in Lafayette County has been irreversibly tainted,” Horan wrote.

The trial is scheduled to begin on October 15

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Original Article on The Advocate
Author: Christopher Wiggins

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