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MAHONING COUNTY Lawyer wants murder trial to be moved



Published: Wed, June 13, 2001 @ 12:00 a.m.



The jury pool has been tainted by pretrial publicity, Batcho's lawyer says.

By BOB JACKSON

VINDICATOR COURTHOUSE REPORTER

YOUNGSTOWN -- Mahoning County is no place for Mark Batcho to get a fair trial on murder charges, his lawyer says.

Atty. Mark A. Stanton of Cleveland has asked that Batcho's trial be moved to another county where potential jurors have not been exposed to pretrial publicity about Batcho or his legal troubles.

Batcho, 34, of Campbell, faces charges of aggravated murder, murder, aggravated robbery and engaging in a pattern of corrupt activity.

The charges stem from the March 1996 shooting death of Lawrence Sisman, 66-year-old Boardman businessman who was a partner in Palace In the Pines, a Coitsville bar.

The case is scheduled for trial Jan. 22, 2002, before visiting Judge Stephen A. Yarbrough.

Batcho is serving an 18-year prison sentence for trying to kill Mahoning County Prosecutor Paul Gains in December 1996, a week before Gains took office.

What's alleged: In court documents, Stanton said the local press has "dedicated an inconceivable amount of time and effort" to coverage of those cases.

"The coverage has been excessive in its depth, irresponsible in its unwarranted conclusions, and unrelenting in its chronic repetition," Stanton said in his motion.

He said Batcho was named or featured in more than 100 news articles and electronic media reports before 2000.

Stanton said he does not believe an impartial jury can be seated from Mahoning County because of the coverage and wants Batcho's trial moved elsewhere.

The organized crime unit of the Ohio attorney general's office is prosecuting the case. Spokesman Bret Crow said the state will ask Judge Yarbrough to try to seat a jury here before deciding to move it.

bjackson@vindy.com




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