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Lawyer files for change of venue

March 05, 1998|By AMY WALLAUER

Newell

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - Michael Newell's attorney wants the Martinsburg man's trial on murder and kidnapping charges moved out of Berkeley County, saying he doesn't believe county residents could form an impartial jury.

Aaron Amore filed a motion for change of venue Wednesday in Berkeley County Circuit Court.

He admits it will be difficult to prove.

Amore said he's considering conducting a poll of Berkeley County residents in an attempt to prove they're biased against Newell, 39, who is charged in the kidnapping and beating death of his niece, 7-year-old Jessica Newell.

An evidentiary hearing before a Berkeley County Circuit judge has not been set. At that hearing, Amore will present his reasons and evidence, which will likely include newspaper stories that tracked Newell's case and letters to the editor from residents about the case.

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Last week, Newell, of 2105 Winchester Ave., entered a not guilty plea to first-degree murder, kidnapping and felony murder charges in the death of Jessica Newell. Her body was found in the wooded North Mountain area on Sept. 20, two days after she disappeared from a Martinsburg bowling alley.

His trial was scheduled for the week of July 6.

In the same area where Jessica was found, agents from the Federal Bureau of Investigation found a plastic bag containing one of Jessica's shoes, a washcloth, a pack of cigarettes and a child's bed sheet.

The cigarettes had Michael Newell's fingerprints on them, court records show, and a matching sheet and a pillowcase were found at his home.

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