SPOKANE, Wash. – A former Spokane Police Officer charged with rape had a hearing Tuesday to determine if a change of venue is needed.
The case against former Spokane Police Sergeant Gordon Ennis was set to go to trial in June, but a mistrial was declared after it was discovered the majority of potential jurors already knew about the case. Both sides filed a joint motion to move the trial out of the area. Judge James Triplet weighed the issues that would arise from keeping the trial in Spokane or moving it to another City.
“Can I improve our chances of having a jury that has no knowledge of the case, no preconceived notions, no bad experiences with law enforcement, no bad experiences with similar type charges anywhere and I'm not sure we can," Judge Triplet said.
After discussing the issue in court Tuesday afternoon, Judge Triplet is still deciding. However, he brought up many factors like the cost of moving the trial out of Spokane, the size of the area the jury would be pulled from, and what could be done differently during jury selection to keep the case here. He also discussed issues that will be a problem no matter where the case is heard, such as, prejudice against law enforcement potential jurors may have, the number of people personally impacted by similar charges, and media coverage of the case. If the trial were moved out of the area, another judge would have to take the case and both sides agreed they want Judge Triplet to preside.
No decision has been made but Judge Triplet said he is leaning toward trying to get a jury one more time here in Spokane.
"I'm inclined to deny it without prejudice and try one more time with making adjustments here," Judge Triplet explained. "As I've outlined, I'll entertain any other reasonable requests to see if I can get a jury from this area."
Another hearing is now set for October 5, 2017. Judge Triplet is going to review more media coverage of the case and take input on how to ensure a fair trial here, then make a decision at that time on whether or not to move the trial.