Community writes off for change of venue in murder trial - WAFF-TV: News, Weather and Sports for Huntsville, AL

Community writes off for change of venue in murder trial

One Valley community is trying to have their voices heard through writing.

It's been nearly four years since Grant Police Chief Verlon Lemaster was shot and killed.

The men charged in the crime were granted a change of venue from Marshall County.

August 15, 2003; a date that hits heavy to hearts in the Town of Grant.

It's the day Grant Police Chief Verlon Lemaster was shot and killed while serving a juvenile pick-up order.

Brian Butler and Jared Eldridge were arrested and charged with the crime.

A judge granted a defense motion for a change of venue in October 2006. Since then, another judge has handled the case but the likelihood of changing the change of venue is slim, but it's not stopping some citizens from trying.  

"He got killed here in Marshall County, in the city limits of Grant, and we feel that he should be tried here in Marshall County," says Melvin Dennis of Grant.

Dennis started a petition in grant to show how strongly the community feels about hosting the trial in Marshall County.

He asked local businesses to post it.  

"Not a one, not one business in Grant Alabama turned it down."

When he first started the petition he expected about 500 or so signees, but in just four weeks he exceeded his goal to nearly 1200 John Hancock's.  

"Maybe these petitions will make a difference; hopefully they'll take it into consideration and do something."

So will they make a difference?

We asked Marshall County District Attorney Steve Marshall.

"We've always felt the defendants could receive a fair trial [in Marshall County], having said that, we're appreciative of the community support but that won't change where this case will take place," says Marshall.

Butler is expected to be in court Thursday for hearings on motions he's already filed.

A date and location for the trial could also be announced at that hearing.

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