A former bookkeeper at the Circuit Court Clerk's Office, charged with theft of property over $1,000, is set to stand trial October 18th in DeKalb County Criminal Court.
During a hearing Friday afternoon, Judge Leon Burns, Jr. set the trial date and denied a motion for a change of venue in the case against Tonya D. Page.
Adam W. Parrish, the Lebanon attorney representing Page filed the motion asking that the trial be moved to Cookeville due to "more than average" media exposure in DeKalb County and due to the fact that Mrs. Page's former employer, Katherine Pack, is a well known person who not only is arguably the victim in this case, but has contact with potential jurors as part of her responsibilities as clerk. For those reasons, Parrish asked that the trial be held in Cookeville where the jury pool would be larger and more diverse.
In response, Assistant District Attorney Greg Strong said that Parrish had not produced any evidence to support his claims, and asked that the trial go forward in DeKalb County.
Judge Burns said it was his practice to try and seat a jury in the county where the case originates and felt like that should be done in this case to "see where we are." However, Judge Burns added that Ms. Pack serving as clerk or jury coordinator in this trial might be a concern, and said he was open to the idea of having a clerk pro temp appointed just for this particular case. But he stopped short of making a final decision on a clerk pro temp appointment until August 16th, to give the lawyers in the case more time to do some legal research on the issue.
The change of venue motion states that Tonya D. Page moves the court for a change of venue due to undue excitement against her in this county, which is of such a nature that a fair trial could not be had. In support thereof, Defendant (Page) would respectfully show as follows:
That the population of DeKalb County is approximately 17,423 and the population of the City of Smithville is even less, 4,389.
This geographically, is a relatively small and tight knit community.
That this case has received significant media exposure, and that commencing with the date of the alleged crime and continuing thereafter, the local papers and WJLE have carried stories purporting to recite facts pertaining to the various alleged facts in the indictment which extends into the homes of many prospective jurors.
Finally, that one of the state's chief witnesses, and arguably the victim, Katherine Pack, is a highly public and well loved individual in the community.
The defendant (Page) moves that this cause be transferred to Cookeville or any other neighboring county which the court may deem proper, where a fair and impartial trial of the defendant may be had.