Change of venue denied in Deon Johnson trial

The first rape trial for former Spanish Fort High School football player, Deon Jonson got underway Monday, March 17, 2014.  Johnson is accused of raping a 16 year old girl in 2012 in Spanish Fort. Jury selection got underway at 1:00 p.m., but not before Johnson’s defense attorney, John White entered a motion for change of venue.  White requested that Judge Braxton Kittrell move the trial out of Baldwin County saying that due to media coverage of Johnson’s arrests, an impartial jury would be hard to find.  Judge Kitrell denied that request and a jury was struck shortly before 5:00 p.m.

The trial comes nearly two years after Spanish Fort Police arrested the former Spanish Fort football standout and Alabama recruit.  Prosecutors said Johnson forcible raped his 16 year old victim.  Prosecutors said the crime took place inside of a public bathroom at a Spanish Fort park.  Johnson also faces two other charges of rape with other victims.  Daphne Police arrested Johnson in 2011 and charged him with raping a 16-year-old girl.  He was also charged by Daphne Police in another case of second degree rape and second degree sodomy for which he was granted youthful offender status.

One of the first questions prosecutor, Teresa Heinz asked of potential jurors was how many of them had heard of Johnson or were familiar with the accusations.  Twenty three raised their hands, but only three said they had already formed opinions about the case.  Heinz told the jury panel that she would have no physical medical evidence to present in this case because the victim did not come forward right away and 12 indicated they would have a problem convicting without it.  White said he’s confident moving forward and that there is little evidence against his client.

“There’s about a little over a two month delay between the time when the alleged attack occurred and when the police were notified so there is no physical evidence to speak of,” White said after court was dismissed for the day.

Johnson has been in the Baldwin County Jail awaiting trial since his bond was revoked for violating its conditions in February of 2013.

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