Weleetka murder case change of venue sought
BY CARY ASPINWALL World Staff Writer
Saturday, December 08, 2012
12/08/12 at 5:00 AM
Read previous stories on the girls’ deaths and the community reaction.
Attorneys for a man accused of gunning down two young girls near Weleetka and slaying his former girlfriend have filed a motion asking that his trial be moved outside Okfuskee County.
"As a result of widespread pre-arrest and pretrial media publicity and community support for both the families of Taylor Paschal-Placker, Skyla Whitaker and Ashley Taylor as well as law enforcement efforts, the defendant Kevin Joe Sweat is incapable of receiving a fair trial in Okfuskee County, as an impartial and non-prejudicial jury cannot be impaneled," the motion for a change of venue states.
Kevin Joe Sweat, 26, was charged last December with first-degree murder in connection with the June 2008 deaths of Paschal-Placker, 13, and Whitaker, 11, of Weleetka. Both girls were shot multiple times and left to die on a rural Okfuskee County road.
Sweat also has been ordered to stand trial next June in Okfuskee County for the July 2011 slaying of his former girlfriend, Ashley Taylor, who disappeared in the summer of 2011 after she and Sweat left Henryetta to get married.
Publicity surrounding Taylor's death and the 3 1/2-year investigation into the young girls' murder case would make it impossible for Sweat to get a fair trial in the county where the killings occurred, Sweat's attorneys argue in the court filing.
"Yesterday's paper doesn't line the bird cage anymore. If a person wants to see a story from 3 years ago, he doesn't have to learn how to use the microfiche machine at the public library. He can just pull his smart phone out of his pocket, type the name 'Kevin Sweat' and wait a few seconds for thousands of links to television and newspaper articles and videos to pop up," the motion states.
The court filing includes a lengthy list of samples of coverage by state newspapers and television stations, including more than 35 Tulsa World articles on both investigations.
Defense attorneys filed additional motions on Sweat's behalf this week, arguing against the death penalty and use of certain wording and evidence in the court case.
Sweat has pleaded not guilty in both cases, and prosecutors plan to seek the death penalty. He is being held in the Seminole County Jail without bail.
A preliminary hearing in the Weleetka girls' case is scheduled for Jan. 28.
Original Print Headline: Change of venue sought
Cary Aspinwall 918-581-8477
Kevin Joe Sweat: He is charged with killing his girlfriend and two Weleetka girls