Change of venue requested in DeWitt cold case murder trial

Sonny Long

Sept. 8, 2013 at 4:08 a.m.

Attorneys on both sides of the Ronnie Joe Hendrick murder trial are concerned about pretrial publicity.

Defense attorney Tali Villafranca has filed a motion for a change of venue in the case after the television program "Cold Justice" featuring the case aired Tuesday on the TNT cable network.

"I know it was watched in DeWitt County," Villafranca said. "There was publicity about the show coming on before it aired, too."

DeWitt County District Attorney Michael Sheppard also sees the potential problem.

"I am concerned about the jury pool, but I suspect that a lot of folks did not watch TNT at 9 o'clock on a Tuesday night," he said.

The change of venue motion could be considered by presiding District Judge Skipper Koetter on Monday.

Depending on the judge's ruling, jury selection also could begin Monday.

Hendrick, 41, is charged with murder in the 2001 death of his girlfriend, Pamela Shelly, who was 31 when she died. The death was originally ruled a suicide.

DeWitt County Sheriff's Office investigator Carl Bowen reopened the case in 2008.

Hendrick was indicted by a DeWitt County grand jury in October after investigators from the television show got involved and assisted the sheriff's office with the investigation.



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