LAUDERDALE COUNTY, Ala. (WHNT) – Attorneys for Casey White have requested that his trial be moved from Lauderdale County, as it would “violate his rights to a fair trial by an impartial jury.”
White’s attorneys filed a motion to change venue on Monday for the felony murder charge stemming from the death of former Lauderdale County jail employee Vicky White. The motion cites local and national media coverage and social media discussion and speculation as reasons why a trial in Lauderdale County wouldn’t be fair or impartial.
Wednesday afternoon prosecutors responded to the defense motion asking the court to hold off on a decision. Prosecutors argue the two sides can question the jury pool about potential prejudice against Casey White and based on those responses, the court can then determine if a change of venue is needed. Prosecutors also said the standard of fairness doesn’t require jurors to be totally ignorant of the facts of the case.
After Vicky White helped Casey White escape from the Lauderdale County Jail, the pair led state and federal authorities on an 11-day manhunt that garnered nationwide attention. Authorities stated that Vicky White died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound as authorities closed in on them in Indiana.
Casey White is charged with felony murder for Vicky White’s death — on the grounds that she died while he engaged in the crime of escaping from jail.
The attorneys for Casey White said in the motion that after Casey White was indicted for capital murder in the 2015 death of Connie Ridgeway, news outlets in Lauderdale, Morgan, Limestone and Madison Counties, and other surrounding counties, published and circulated stories that “included significant portions of documentary and hearsay evidence relative to the defendant [Casey White}, the admissibility of which has not been considered by this Honorable Court.”
After the White’s escape, media coverage of the pair skyrocketed across the nation. The story, according to the court documents, was one of the most viewed stories in the nation trailing only the war in Ukraine at the time.
On top of the national coverage, Casey White’s case has garnered quite a bit of discussion on social media. One Facebook group that is explicitly named in the motion, “Vicky White & Casey Cole White – Lauderdale County,” has over 50,000 members, many of which live in the Shoals area.
The motion states that the discussion on social media and in groups like the one mentioned above have “severely prejudiced” the defendant.
Even celebrities contributed to the intense interest in the story on social media. The court records cite a tweet by Rainn Wilson, who has over four million Twitter followers, where he tweeted a CNN story about Casey White. The tweet got 789 retweets, 132 quote tweets and more than 18,500 likes.
A full statement from the motion explaining why the request for a change of venue is shown below.
“Lauderdale County, Alabama, has a population of approximately 92,870 residents.Motion for Change of Venue
Nearly all of them own a television, phone, computer, tablet or combination of the four.
It would take a resident living in a dwelling without access to electricity or
communication from the outside world for the last month to not know a significant
amount of information about the Defendant, his capital murder case, and his other legal
matters. Therefore, to ensure that Mr. White receives a fair trial from an impartial jury
of his peers, it is imperative that this matter be transferred to another county whereas it
is obvious that Lauderdale County has been overwhelmed with prejudice towards Mr.
White that cannot be cured in any manner.”
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Casey White’s felony murder trial is currently set for July 12 in Lauderdale County.