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Lawyer: Delay, move Ohio football players' trial

Source : AP
Last Updated: Wed, Jan 23, 2013 00:30 hrs

The lawyer for one of two high school football players charged with raping a 16-year-old girl wants to delay the trial and also have it moved out of an eastern Ohio city that has received international attention.

Attorney Brian Duncan filed the motion Friday on behalf of Trent Mays, who is scheduled for trial next month in juvenile court in Steubenville. Duncan expects to file another motion this week to move the trial.

An attorney for the other defendant, Ma'Lik Richmond, filed similar motions earlier this month, as well as a request to close the trial to the public.

Richmond's attorney, Walter Madison, said in an email Tuesday that the visiting judge handling the case has denied a request to give the defendants separate trials.

The Ohio Attorney General's Office, which is prosecuting the case, wouldn't comment.

The case has gained global attention through the work of bloggers and hacker-activists who allege other football players should be charged but are being protected by a cover-up. A video and photo posted online also have drawn attention to the case.

In a statement earlier this month, Duncan urged the public not to let the case reflect on the Steubenville area in general. He also acknowledged the role of social media in in the case but again urged people not to draw conclusions.

"We certainly recognize that the video, photograph, alleged facts, and surrounding circumstances set forth on the Internet and portrayed in the media would cause even the most optimistic of man to call into question the defendants' presumption of innocence," Duncan said in the Jan. 9 statement.

"We must be careful in this age of social media to ensure that the words set forth do in fact portray the actual story," he said.

The 12-minute video shows a student who was not involved in the attack but apparently aware of it joking about it while others in the background chime in.

In a photograph, the two defendants are apparently seen carrying the girl by her arms and legs, according to the transcript of an October hearing where a judge heard testimony before deciding whether the teens should be charged.

At that hearing, three other high school students testified to seeing the attack on the girl from nearby Weirton, W.Va. Two of those students also recorded a video and photograph of the attacks on their phones, but deleted the images shortly afterward. Those students were told at the hearing that they would have been charged had investigators found the images.

In letters to attorneys for each of the three students last fall, prosecutors said that while each student "may not have conducted himself in a responsible or appropriate manner, his behavior did not rise to the level of criminal conduct," according to copies of the letters obtained by The Associated Press through a records request.

Prosecutors added in each case that, "we will not prosecute your client for his actions" on the weekend of the alleged attack in August, the letters said.

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Andrew Welsh-Huggins can be reached on Twitter at http://twitter.com/awhcolumbus .




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