GETTYSBURG, Pa. — The Adams County public defender representing a Fairfield, Pa., man charged in the 2010 shooting death of Pennsylvania Wildlife Conservation Officer David Grove has asked an Adams County Common Pleas Court judge to grant a change of venue, citing pre-trial publicity in the case.
Assistant Public Defender Kristin L. Rice has also filed a motion to suppress statements made to police by Christopher Lynn Johnson following his apprehension in the Nov. 11, 2010, shooting of Grove, who grew up in Waynesboro, Pa., and attended Grace Academy in Hagerstown.
Adams County District Attorney Shawn Wagner would not comment on the case following Monday morning’s pre-trial hearing, citing Rice’s motion for a change of venue.
Judge Michael George scheduled a June 28 hearing on the change of venue motion to move the case to another county and the suppression of Johnson’s statements.
At that time, the judge also will hear arguments on a defense motion to dismiss the notice of aggravating circumstances filed by the state.
Wagner in January filed the notice of aggravating circumstances necessary to seek the death penalty in Pennsylvania.
In that filing, Wagner cited three circumstances: that Grove was a law enforcement officer killed in the line of duty; that it was an intentional killing committed in the course of a felony; and that Grove was killed to prevent him from testifying to the felony.
Wagner told George on Monday that one of the three aggravating circumstances cited by the state — the killing of a law enforcement officer in the line of duty — cannot be refuted.
Wagner also informed the court that he might file a fourth aggravating circumstance, contending that the killing was committed by a person with “a history of violent crimes.”
Grove was shot four times on the night of Nov. 11 after he pulled over a pickup truck in Freedom Township, Pa., on suspicion of poaching, authorities have said.
During Johnson’s November 2010 preliminary hearing, audio tapes of Grove’s radio transmissions were played in the courtroom. Grove reported seeing a spotlight and hearing gunfire, and pulling over the truck. Grove radioed that the occupants of the truck were armed, and he requested backup.
Johnson, who was shot once in the exchange of gunfire with Grove, was arrested Nov. 12, 2010.