The defense attorney for double-manslaughter suspect Marcia “Marci” Kitchen has filed a motion to have her trial moved out of Humboldt County.
A clerk’s office employee confirmed this morning the motion was filed Thursday by the Humboldt County Conflict Counsel’s Office. Kitchen is represented by Deputy Conflict Counsel Meagan O’Connell. The hearing on the motion is scheduled for the morning of Aug. 27, with Deputy District Attorney Stacey Eads representing the prosecution. Eads will likely file a motion in opposition.
Change of venue motions are filed because it’s feared the defendant can’t get a fair trial locally, usually because of extensive publicity that might prejudice potential jurors. For comparison, 800 potential jurors were interviewed for Jon David Goldberg’s murder trial, and the judge said every one of the 800 knew at least something about the case.
Kitchen’s case has received more publicity than Goldberg’s, with commenters on the Outpost often expressing their outrage, mistakenly assuming she is charged with murder and calling for a long prison sentence. People have also been upset that Kitchen, 40, is free on bail pending her trial.
Kitchen is accused of running over and killing her own daughter, Kiya Kitchen, and Kiya’s friend Faith Tsarnas, while driving drunk on Eel River Drive the evening of July 12, 2016. The two 14-year-olds had been skateboarding on the road when Marci Kitchen’s Jeep hit them from behind. It’s alleged Kitchen fled the scene afterward, driving to her nearby Fortuna home and asking her teenage son to the ram the jeep into a basketball hoop in the driveway.
Kitchen was arrested after a two-month investigation by the California Highway Patrol. She posted $750,000 bail and has remained out of custody for nearly two years. She has never denied running over the girls, but told friends she thought at first that she had hit a deer.
Initially Kitchen was represented by two local private attorneys, but they withdrew from the case in March when she could no longer afford them. O’Connell took over the defense at that time. She said at a hearing in late July that she planned to file a motion after a defense expert completed his investigation. The investigation apparently was on the possibilities for change of venue.
It’s rare for cases to be moved out of the county. One of the few occurred in the late 1980s, when the trial of double-murder suspect Donald Hansen was transferred to Oakland. A jury there acquitted Hansen of murdering his 16-year-old twin sisters.
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