A judge in Seattle has denied a request to move the trial of the father of the teenager who fatally shot his friends and himself at Marysville-Pilchuck High School last fall.
SEATTLE — The federal trial of the father of the teenager who fatally shot his friends and himself in a high school cafeteria last fall will start next Monday in Seattle, as planned, a judge said Wednesday in denying a request to move the trial out of the region.
Raymond Fryberg faces six counts of illegally possessing a cache of firearms, including the one his son, Jaylen Fryberg, used to kill four friends and injure another at the Marysville-Pilchuck High School in October. Prosecutors say he was prohibited from possessing guns because he was the subject of a domestic violence protection order.
U.S. District Judge James Robart closed the courtroom over objections from The Associated Press and heard arguments from Fryberg’s lawyers about why they believed he could not get a fair trial in Seattle.
After allowing the media back in, Robart said the lawyers had not made the case that all the publicity about the shooting and Fryberg’s connection would impact the case. But Robart scolded the lawyers on both sides for “engaging in press warfare” by speaking with reporters or sending out news releases.
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He said the size of the jury pool in the region will allow them to find 12 people who have not decided Fryberg’s guilt or innocence. He noted a federal judge in Boston refused to relocate the trial of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, who was accused in the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing.
Robart said lawyers can address any concerns about pre-trial publicity and juror prejudice with a juror questionnaire. He also said he’ll make sure that jurors know the distinction between the Marysville school shooting and the charges against Fryberg.
Fryberg’s lawyers have said that the protection order issued by the Tulalip Tribal Court did not say that he was not allowed to have firearms, so he didn’t know he was a prohibited person.
One of his lawyers, Michael Lee, also asked the judge to throw out all evidence that federal prosecutors sent to the defense after a July discovery deadline. He said they received some of the evidence as recently as Monday and they don’t have enough time to properly review it.
Robart denied that request as well.
Lee said one piece of evidence recently received could actually help their case. He read from the recently received grand jury transcript in which a juror asked the witness whether the protection order “specifically states” Fryberg is not allowed to have a firearm.
The witness answered: “It is not on the restraining order.”
A grand juror also asked a witness if there was documentation that Fryberg was actually served with the restraining order. Lee said the witness responded that there was no evidence that Fryberg was served, except a statement from an officer.
Lee said they had asked for a discovery cut off so they wouldn’t get this type of material on the eve of trial, which “could change the strategy of the case and the scope of questioning of government witnesses.”
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