KERRVILLE, — In another twist to the Kevin Franke case, 216th District DA Lucy Wilke and Assistant DA John Hoover, have filed a motion to change the venue in the Kevin Franke case to Gillespie County.
According to the motion, the reason they are asking for a change of venue is that the proceedings have garnered widespread local and national media attention and that citizens might find their way onto the jury who may have already made their mind up about the case.
The motion specifically mentions two media sources as the reason for the change, Kerrville Breaking News and Kerrville Daily Times.
“Kerrville Breaking News has consistently followed the cases against the Defendant and Amanda Hawkins,” states the motion.
“Kerrville Breaking News also has a feature on their Facebook forum where people can comment on and express their thoughts and feelings on the stories written about the Defendant and his case(s).”
“Several comments posted on the Kerrville Breaking News Facebook forum express favoritism toward the Defendant and a bias against the murder charges that are pending against him.”
The DA office believes that there is potential that one or more of the commentators could conceivably find their way on to the jury in the trial of the Defendant’s case(s) if held in Kerr County.
Mike Taylor on Headline News talking about the Amanda Hawkins case after the Kevin Franke murder indictments
Kerrville Daily Times is also mentioned several times in the motion.
“The local newspaper The Kerrville Daily Times (Daily Times) has collectively run 19 articles about the Defendant and Amanda Hawkins since June of 2017,” says the motion.
“The content in the latest stories printed in the Daily Times has been reported in a way that shows implicit favoritism toward the Defendant.”
“These articles also convey the message that the Defendant is in some way less culpable than his co-defendant or improperly charged.”
Based off of all of the local media coverage and bias alleged by at least one news media source, the D.A. office insists there is a danger that “readers – i.e. a potential Kerr County jury pool – will prejudge the cases in favor of the Defendant and infer that the charges against him are somehow improper and that he is less culpable than his co-defendant, Amanda Hawkins.”
The motion also mention’s Robert White, who is the husband of former Kerrville Mayor Bonnie White, and states that White has testified for the Defendant in two motions to reduce/modify bond.
“While Mr. White’s support is not improper, he does have a greater deal of influence in the community than others.”
“His public support is further evidence of community favoritism in Kerr County towards the Defendant.”
The motion ends with saying that the State has a vested interest in a fair and impartial trial and that the State has good faith that an impartial trial cannot be conducted in Kerr County.
Kevin Franke’s attorney, Richard Ellison had no comment on the motion.
Franke’s motion to Quash was denied by the Honorable Judge N. Keith Williams earlier in May. Read more about that here.
The next motion hearing is scheduled for May 22, 2019.