A change of venue hearing for Kenneth H. Botham, Jr. was continuing this afternoon, with indications that the two days of testimony would be completed late today.
All witnesses who appeared in the first day and one-half days of hearings were persons subpoenaed by the public defender’s office, which is representing Botham in four charges of first degree murder.
In general, their testimony was that they had personal opinions on the defendant’s guilt, but they also indicated that they felt it would be possible – although difficult – to obtain an impartial Mesa county jury.
Two homemakers, Mrs. Judy Prakken of 1224 Main and Mrs. Marjorie Golden of 207 Country Club Park said this morning they felt they couldn’t serve as jurors. They also said they felt publicity about the four murders had been quite extensive.
Hugh Wise of 703 Galaxy, a lawyer, said he felt he could segregate facts and could give the defendant a fair trail, but he said he believed some people would have a difficult time.
Tim Osborn, manager of Colorado Periodicals Distribution Inc., testified that “Front Page Detective,” a national magazine which published the story, had distributed 458 copies of that issue in Western Colorado and Eastern Utah. That was almost 500 percent more sales than the magazine had enjoyed here in any other month in the past year, he said.
Three Mesa College faculty members and newsmen were among those testifying Tuesday afternoon.
Critical of coverage
Two of the faculty members – Don MacKendrick and Lou Morton of the college’s social science department – were critical of the Daily Sentinel’s coverage.
“I think the (Sentinel) news coverage was provincial,” MacKendrick said. “It was poor coverage of national and world events. Its stock-in-trade is local news. It’s not very often it has a very big story when it depends on local news.”
MacKendrick said he felt the newspaper “tried to be objective,” but added: “If the paper gets a big story, it tends to do too much with it.” He said he felt was “not necessary to give all the details.”
Morton said he thought a Sunday Daily Sentinel editorial on change of venue was “in very poor taste.” He said that some persons he had talked to felt the defendant had been framed by the police, and some felt the newspaper had influenced their thinking.
Morton also said that, as a political scientist, he has been trained to make impartial judgments, and he believes he could be an effective juror.
Rich Baca, a counselor at Mesa College, said he feels it would be difficult for people to divest themselves of unconscious kinds of decisions based on reports they had read and hear[d].
Arrest warrant story
Newsman Larry Donovan of KREX said he felt there were some instances in which “we (he and other electronic media newsmen) didn’t think (information) should have been printed.” He singled out an arrest warrant story, in which some of the details of the warrant were in the newspaper.
He said: “You may be able to pick somebody (for a jury) in Mesa County.”
Dan Dennison, news director of radio station KSTR, said; “Sometimes I think he (the defendant) can, and sometimes I think he can’t have a fair trial.”
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