Dist. Judge William Ela denied a motion for change of venue in the Kenneth H. Botham Jr. case today.

Judge Ela said he would issue a written ruling denying the motion later today.

Botham is charged with four counts of murder in the deaths last Aug. 23 of his wife, Pat, and their neighbors, Mrs. Linda Miracle and her sons, Chad and Troy.

Judge Ela said this morning that the motion for the change in location for the trial is denied “at this time,” leaving the way open for a later change if subsequent events should, in his opinion, dictate the change.

Judge Ela also said that he feels the press has acted responsibly and within the guidelines of the barpress compact on pre-trial publicity since mid-January, when the case moved from county to district court.

Public Defender Robert Emerson and state Deputy Public Defender Lee Foreman sought the change of venue on the basis of pre-trial publicity.

Two days of hearings were held last Tuesday and Wednesday on the change of venue motion.  About a dozen witnesses testified for the public defender’s office that they felt the location of the trial should be changed to another judicial district, because of what they had read in the newspapers, seen and heard on television and radio, and because of the feelings of the people.

However, a number of those witnesses also testified that, although it might be “difficult” to obtain a jury for the trial, it would not be impossible, if the judge has sufficient patience and there is a large enough jury panel.

At thee [the] conclusion of the hearing, Judge Ela said he could not rule immediately but wanted to take the evidence presented under consideration for a few days.


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