Ongoing media coverage of the case against ex-cop Karl Waldon is not reason enough for the upcoming trial to be moved outside of Jacksonville, a federal judge ruled Tuesday.
Waldon’s attorneys argued last month that heavy publicity surrounding the case had tainted the potential juror pool.
But U.S. District Judge Henry Lee Adams Jr. ruled that while media coverage has been substantial, it has not been so prejudicial as to prohibit a fair trial.
“Much of the information contained in the newspaper articles is largely factual in nature,” Adams wrote in his order.
Waldon is charged with a series of crimes, including the 1998 slaying of businessman Sami Safar, robberies and drug trafficking. Also arrested were Officers Aric Sinclair, Jason Pough and Reginald Bones, who have pleaded guilty to various charges.
In December, Adams ordered the federal trial moved to Tampa because of mold and mildew problems in the local federal courthouse. He ordered the trial back to Jacksonville after granting a delay shortly before the April 1 start. The case is to begin Oct. 1, when the new federal courthouse opens.
In his order Tuesday, Adams also denied a request from the defense to conduct a telephone poll to learn what people know about and whether they have formed an opinion. The judge said Waldon could renew his request for a change of venue once jury selection begins, should the potential jurors’ answers demonstrate that the pool has been tainted by pretrial publicity.