Attorneys for the Evergreen man accused of murdering his girlfriend’s 2-year-old son have filed a motion to move the upcoming murder trial to a new venue due in part to the level of media attention the case has received.
Brandon Newberry’s attorneys, Greg Rapkoch and Vicki Frazier, filed a motion for a change of venue in Flathead County District Court on Oct. 26. The lawyers argue that Newberry could not receive a fair trial in Flathead County because the local jury pool has been tainted.
“In this case, misinformation, rumors and inflammatory news articles abound throughout the County,” Rapkock wrote. “Accordingly, the court must move the trial to a populated area, distinct and apart from the Mission and Flathead valleys.”
The six-page motion states that excessive local media coverage of the death of 2-year-old Forrest Groshelle helped spread “inaccurate and sensationalized information” about the case. Attorneys also said that Newberry is not safe in the community because of a February incident where the defendant’s vehicle and home were vandalized. On Feb. 25, someone slashed the tires and broke the windows of Newberry’s Jeep Grand Cherokee in Evergreen. They also spray painted “Burn in Hell Brandon” on the side of the vehicle.
Attorneys also noted that a metal detector had to be set up at the Flathead County Justice Center during Newberry’s February arraignment and that he had to be escorted into the courtroom wearing a bullet-proof vest.
Newberry pleaded not guilty to deliberate homicide and is expected to go on trial in March.
According to court documents, the Flathead County Sheriff’s Office received a call about an unresponsive child on Feb. 17. During the call, Newberry could be heard screaming in the background, “it’s my fault, it’s my fault.”
When police arrived, they found bruising, scratching and abrasions on Groshelle’s body. An autopsy revealed that the child had been hit multiple times in the abdomen, causing perienteritis, a laceration of the small intestine.
In an interview with sheriff’s deputies, the mother, Takara Juntunen, revealed that Newberry had been watching Groshelle on a daily basis while she was at work. During an interview with police, Newberry admitted that he had been “roughhousing” with the child the previous day.
If convicted, Newberry could face up to 100 years in prison.
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